SU AND GERMANY TREATED AS OUTLAWS
The first admission of the young state to any international conference was at the Genoa Conference of 1922, called by the victorious allies in the hope of dumping the burden of a bankrupt, postwar Europe on the backs of Soviet Russia and vanquished Germany. The prospective victims had to be present in order to accept the burden.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 144
SU WANTS TO SIGN PEACE PACTS
The Soviets were the first to sign the Kellogg Pact, proposed by United States; they were the first to sign any international peace pact or proposal, sometimes before they were invited.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 146
In an August 22, 1939, letter to Sumner Wells, Acting American Secretary of State, Ambassador Davies said in reference to the Soviet-German Nonaggression Pact, “During the Litvinov tenure in the Foreign Office, there was to be sure a very strong moral impulse of hostility toward Germany and the aggressor powers beginning with the accession of Hitler to power. During that period the Soviet regime, in my opinion, diligently and vigorously tried to maintain a vigorous common front against the aggressors and were sincere advocates of the “indivisibility of peace.”
Litvinov’s able battle for peace and democratic ideas at the League of Nations and the vigorous attitude of the Soviet government in being prepared to fight for Czechoslovakia were indications of real sincerity of purpose and a marked degree of high-mindedness.
Beginning with Munich, and even before, however, there has been an accumulation of events which gradually broke down this attitude on the part of the Soviet government.
During my tenure in Moscow I was much impressed with the fact that the Russians were undoubtedly severely irked by what appeared to be a policy of “pinpricking” and an attitude of superiority and “talking down” which diplomatic missions of the Western powers assumed toward the Soviet government. The Soviets are proud and resented this deeply.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 454
In his conduct of foreign policy, Stalin showed great caution, restraint, and realism. He needed time to build up Russia’s industries and military strength. He was constantly provoked in the east and west, and in ways that must have infuriated him, but he never lost sight of the overriding need to delay the outbreak of war as long as possible. It was for this reason that he placed the greatest emphasis on peace and disarmament in world affairs.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 296
Each of the future allies sold space for time and let down allies and friends, until no space was left to be sold and no time to be bought.
In the course of 1934 Stalin set out on his search for protective alliances. Gradually, but not imperceptibly, he switched over from opposition to the system of Versailles to its defense. In September Russia joined the League of Nations. Hitherto the Kremlin and the League had boycotted each other. To Lenin the League had been the ‘robbers’ den’, the organization designed to enforce the peace of Versailles, to perpetuate colonial domination and to suppress movements of emancipation all over the world.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 417
Yet, in spite of all this, one feels justified in asserting that in those years, 1935-37 and even later, Stalin was genuinely striving for an anti-Hitler coalition. This course of action was dictated to him by circumstances…. At the Nuremberg rally of September 1936 Hitler spoke about the Ukraine and Siberia as belonging to the German Lebensraum in terms so emphatic and fiery that they seemed to exclude even a transient understanding between himself and Stalin. Later in the year the leaders of the Axis came together to announce the conclusion of the anti-Comintern pact. Throughout all that period clashes, some of them serious, were occurring between Russian and Japanese frontier troops. The storm seemed to be gathering over Russia in Asia and Russia in Europe. If not anti-fascist virtue, then the demands of self-preservation drove Stalin to seek security in a solid system of alliances.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 420
(Sinclair’s comments only)
Again and again Russia came into the conferences of Europe and proposed complete disarmament. Our reactionary newspaper columnists are quite sure that this was a bluff; but what a simple matter it is to call a bluff if you have the cards! Why didn’t the warlords of the militarist nations accept Litvinov’s propositions? Why didn’t they pretend to accept them?
The answer is because every one of them understood clearly that a collectivist economy can get along without colonies and foreign trade, whereas a profit economy must have these things and must increase them, and therefore is driven continually to fresh aggressions under penalty of revolution at home.
It is my belief that the disarmament proposals repeatedly made by the Soviet Union enable that country to stand before the world with clean hands, and place the blame for the wars which are coming upon the nations which refused the proposals and have gone on ever since to prepare for worse aggressions against the Soviet Union.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia?: Two Views. New York: Rand School Press, 1938, p. 23
SU AND MEXICO ONLY ONES TO AID SPAIN
The Soviet Union shared with Mexico the honor of being the only governments that aided the Democratic government of Spain.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 147
As week succeeded week, it became obvious that the governments of Britain and France were prepared to give nothing to the Spanish people except advice. Once Stalin was convinced of this, he declared the intention of the Soviet state to give all the help it could to the Spanish loyalists.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 96
Three countries participated directly in the Spanish Civil War: Germany, Italy, and the Soviet Union.
Krivitsky, Walter. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 88
It was late in August 1936 and the Franco forces were firmly organized and marching successfully on Madrid, when three high officials of the Spanish Republic were finally received in Russia. They came to buy war supplies, and they offered in exchange huge sums of Spanish gold. Even now, however, they were not conveyed to Moscow but kept incognito in a hotel in Odessa. And to conceal the operation, Stalin issued, on Friday, Aug. 28, 1936, through the Commissar of Foreign Trade, a decree forbidding “the export, re-export, or transit to Spain of all kinds of arms, munitions, war materials, airplanes, and warships. The decree was published and broadcast to the world on the following Monday. The fellow travelers of the Comintern, and the public, roused by them, already privately dismayed at Stalin’s failure to rush to the support of the Spanish Republic, now thought that he was joining Leon Blum’s policy of non-intervention. Stalin was in reality sneaking to the support of the Spanish Republic. While its high officials waited in Odessa, Stalin called an extraordinary session of the Politburo, and presented his plan for cautious intervention in the Spanish Civil War – all this under cover of his proclamation of neutrality.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 91
Two days later a special courier, who came by plane to Holland, brought me instructions from Moscow: Extend your operations immediately to cover Spanish Civil War. Mobilize all available agents and facilities for prompt creation of a system to purchase and transport arms to Spain. A special agent is being dispatched to Paris to aid you in this work. He will report to you there and work under your supervision.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 93
In plain terms, it was Captain Oulansky’s job to organize and operate a ring of arms smugglers, and to do this so cleverly that no trace could be discovered by the spies of foreign governments.
“If you succeed,” Yagoda told him, “come back with a hole in your lapel for the Order of the Red Banner.”
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 96
We all met in Paris in perfect secrecy on September 21. Zimin brought explicit and emphatic instructions that we must not permit the slightest possibility of the Soviet government’s becoming in any way associated with our traffic in arms. All cargos were to be handled “privately” through business firms created for the purpose.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 97
We made large purchases from the Skoda works in Czechoslovakia, from several firms in France, from others in Poland and Holland. Such is the nature of the munitions trade that we even bought arms in Nazi Germany.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 98
By the middle of October, shiploads of arms began to reach republican Spain. The Soviet aid came in two streams. My organization used foreign vessels. Captain Oulansky’s “private syndicate” in Odessa began by using Spanish boats but found their number limited. Moscow, held by Stalin’s insistence on absolute secrecy lest he become involved in a war, would not permit the use of ships sailing under Soviet papers.
With these false papers, Soviet boats loaded with munitions would sail from Odessa under new names, flying foreign colors, and they would clear the Bosphorus, where German and Italian counter-espionage agents were keeping a sharp look-out. When they had entered loyalist ports and delivered their cargo, their names would be changed back to Russian ones and they would return to Odessa under their own colors.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 99
My agent had bought the 50 government planes for 4,000 pounds each, subject to inspection. When the question of the consignee came up, he offered a choice of a Latin-American country or China. The dealer preferred China.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 102
I was ordered to send the planes to Alicante. But that port was blockaded by Franco’s vessels. The master of the ship made for Alicante, but had to turn back to save the ship and cargo. He attempted to head for Barcelona, but was prevented by my agent on board. My shipload of aircraft plied back and forth in the Mediterranean. Franco kept it from Alicante. Stalin kept it from Barcelona.
…The Norwegian ship finally slipped through Franco’s blockade and discharged its planes at Alicante. At the same time, other war supplies, including tanks and artillery, arrived from the Soviet Union. All loyalist Spain saw that tangible aid was actually coming from Russia. The Republicans, Socialists, anarchists, [and Trotskyists], and syndicalists had only theories and ideals to offer. The Communists were producing guns and planes to use against Franco. Soviet prestige soared.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 103
While this International Brigade – the army of the Comintern – was taking shape in the foreground, purely Russian units of the Red Army were quietly arriving and taking up their posts behind the Spanish front. This Soviet military personnel in Spain never reached more than 2,000 men, and only pilots and tank officers saw active duty. Most of the Russians were technicians–general staff men, military instructors, engineers, specialists in setting up war industries, experts in chemical warfare, aviation mechanics, radio operators, and gunnery experts. These Red Army men were segregated from the Spanish civilians as much as possible, housed apart, and never permitted to associate in any way with Spanish political groups or figures. They were ceaselessly watched by the 0GPU, both to keep their presence in Spain a secret and to prevent any political heresy from corrupting the Red Army.
This special expeditionary force was under the direct control of General Berzin, one of the two leading Soviet figures assigned by Stalin to captain his intervention in Spain. The other was Arthur Stashevsky, officially the Soviet trade envoy stationed in Barcelona.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 107
Berzin was selected by Stalin to organize and direct the Loyalist Army.
Stalin’s chief political commissar in Spain was Arthur Stashevsky.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 108
Dr. Negrin, of course, saw the only salvation of his country in close co-operation with the Soviet Union. It had become obvious that active support could come only from that source.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 112
The splendid feats of the International Brigade, and the material help received from the Soviet Union, so prompted the growth of the Communist Party of Spain that by January 1937 its membership was more than 200,000. The saving of Madrid enormously enhanced Soviet prestige.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 114
The successful defense of Madrid with Soviet arms gave the 0GPU new opportunities to extend its powers.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 115
By February 15th, however, they [the Fascists] were forced to retreat by the newly-reorganized republican army… and the support of 40 Soviet warplanes–moscas and chatos–that had just arrived in Spain: not as many in number as the German warplanes, but technically superior.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 327
Airplanes provided by the Soviet government, 500 pieces of artillery, and 10,000 machine guns were held up in France.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 336
The people of Spain had a loyal friend in the Soviet Union, which could be relied upon to do everything in its power to promote their cause and to frustrate the designs of every imperialist power.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 338
And henceforth the Soviet government did all it could to supply the Republicans with everything they needed, from men (through the international brigades who sent some 35,000 men to Spain), to military advisers from its own army, to armaments and food.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 440
It is common knowledge that soon after the fascist rebellion and the beginning of the civil war in Spain the Soviet Union began to aid and support the Spanish Republic….
By the end of 1936 the Soviet Union had supplied Spain with 106 tanks, 60 armored cars, 136 airplanes, more than 60,000 rifles, 174 field guns, 3,727 machine guns, and an unspecified amount of ammunition.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 724
VYSHINSKY: In his message to the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Spain addressed to Comrade Jose Diaz, Comrade Stalin said: “The toilers of the Soviet Union are merely fulfilling their duty in giving all the assistance they can to the revolutionary masses of Spain. They fully realize that the liberation of Spain from the yoke of the fascist reactionaries is not the private affair of the Spaniards, but the common cause of the whole of advanced and progressive humanity.”
Report of Court Proceedings: The case of the Anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre–1937, Moscow: Military Collegium of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R, p. 506
The experience of the Civil War in Spain–where no country except the Soviet Union provided assistance to the legal government of the Republic,…
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 10
In the summer [of 1936] the Spanish Civil War started. Stalin became involved to the extent of sending supplies including 648 aircraft and 407 tanks. Three thousand Soviet military ‘volunteers’ served in Spain, and the Comintern organized the 42,000 volunteers of the International Brigade commanded by the supposed Canadian ‘Kleber ‘, in fact Red Army Corps Commander, Shtern.
Conquest, Robert. Stalin: Breaker of Nations. New York, New York: Viking, 1991, p. 219
…Stalin, while professing Soviet adherence to non-intervention [in the Spanish Civil War], secretly approved the immediate dispatch of trained Soviet pilots to fly fighter aircraft supplied by the French.
Costello, John and Oleg Tsarev. Deadly illusions. New York: Crown, c1993, p. 254
Sixteen Soviet freighters put to see from the Black Sea port of Odessa, heading for the Mediterranean. By early November they had safely reached the Republican-held port of Cartagena, where they unloaded more than 800 tanks and aircraft along with thousands of gallons of badly needed fuel. Although military aid on a far more massive scale was needed to defeat Franco, Stalin’s first grudging commitment of Soviet support proved an important morale booster for the Spanish Republicans. Soviet supplies meant that the Loyalists were no longer battling alone against a Nationalist army being supplied with an increasing flood of arms from Germany and Italy.
” Madrid will not now fall,” declared Prime Minister Caballero, “now the war will begin, because we now have the necessary materials.” His defiant words were reinforced later that month with the arrival of hundreds of Soviet military personnel and more arms. Orlov and his comrades in the Red Air Force and Army units in Spain resented Stalin’s order that military personnel were to “keep out of range of artillery fire”. Their T-10 tanks and Mosca and Chato fighter aircraft proved more than a match for the German and Italian opposition. Even in the hands of hastily trained Republican pilots and crews the firepower and maneuverability of the Soviet weapons proved superior to Nationalist tanks and aircraft during the December battles for Madrid.
Costello, John and Oleg Tsarev. Deadly illusions. New York: Crown, c1993, p. 256
Stalin was as good as his word. Twenty years later, when Orlov testified in 1957 before the Senate Internal Security Sub-Committee and recounted how he had organized the looting of the Spanish treasury, Radio Moscow announced that the $420 million worth of Spanish gold smuggled to Russia in 1937 had been sent legitimately to “finance the Republican cause”. Franco’s government was pressing the Soviets to send back the bullion after Negrin’s heirs had returned to Madrid the official receipt for “510 million grams of gold” which the bank of Moscow had given to the cashiers of the Bank of Spain in 1938.
Khrushchev, the Soviet president in 1957 certainly was not going to return a single peseta of Republican money to the Fascist regime of Franco. This was made clear in a broadcast by Radio Moscow in which the USSR reminded the world that the value of Soviet aid delivered to the Spanish Government during the Civil War amounted to much more than the value of 510 metric tons of gold. According to the statement the Spanish account with the USSR was still overdrawn because of the Republicans’ failure to repay $50 million of an additional $85 million in supplies which they had allegedly been loaned officially.
Costello, John and Oleg Tsarev. Deadly illusions. New York: Crown, c1993, p. 263
After all, we had to intervene in Spain because of the fear of agitation on the part of Trotskyites. The Instantsia [Politburo] fears accusations of liquidation–accusations that we have let down the Spanish Left. This is absurd; questions of policy must be decided according to the demands of the State, and not from the point of view of [dissidents, critics, and traitors]….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 268
Stalin’s role in the Spanish Civil War likewise comes under fire from the “left.” Again taking their cue from Trotsky and such professional anti-Communist ideologues as George Orwell, many “Socialists” claim that Stalin sold out the Loyalists. A similar criticism is made about Stalin’s policies in relation to the Greek partisans in the late 1940s, which we will discuss later. According to these “left” criticisms, Stalin didn’t “care” about either of the struggles, because of his preoccupation with internal development and “Great Russian power.” The simple fact of the matter is that in both cases Stalin was the only national leader any place in the world to support the popular forces, and he did this in the face of stubborn opposition within his own camp and the dangers of military attack from the leading aggressive powers in the world (Germany and Italy in the late 1930s, the U.S. 10 years later).
Because the USSR, following Stalin’s policies, had become a modern industrial nation by the mid 1930s, it was able to ship to the Spanish Loyalists Soviet tanks and planes that were every bit as advanced as the Nazi models. Because the USSR was the leader of the world revolutionary forces, Communists from many nations were able to organize the International Brigades, which went to resist Mussolini’s fascist divisions and the crack Nazi forces, such as the Condor Legion, that were invading the Spanish Republic. The capitalist powers, alarmed by this international support for the Loyalists, planned joint action to stop it. In March 1937, warships of Germany, Italy, France, and Great Britain began jointly policing the Spanish coast. Acting on a British initiative, these same countries formed a bloc in late 1937 to isolate the Soviet Union by implementing a policy they called “non-intervention,” which Lloyd George, as leader of the British Opposition, labeled a clear policy of support for the fascists. Mussolini supported the British plan and called for a campaign “to drive Bolshevism from Europe.” Stalin’s own foreign ministry, which was still dominated by aristocrats masquerading as proletarian revolutionaries, sided with the capitalist powers. The New York Times of October 29, 1937, describes how the “unyielding” Stalin, representing “Russians stubbornness,” refused to go along: “A struggle has been going on all this week between Josef Stalin and Foreign Commissar Litvinov,” who wished to accept the British plan. Stalin stuck to his guns, in the Soviet Union refused to grant Franco international status as a combatant, insisting that it had every right in the world to continue aiding the duly elected government of Spain, which it did until the bitter end.
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 22
Whenever you may think about them you can hardly dispute the fact that Russia is for all practical purposes at war today. Russian technicians are helping the democratic people of Spain to defend their existence. Russian technicians are helping the people China to the same end. Russia is fighting not merely Franco, but Hitler and Mussolini in Spain.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia?: Two Views. New York: Rand School Press, 1938, p. 22
Those of us who are over 50 today remember well that the Soviet Union, fulfilling its internationalist duty, helped the legitimate Government and the people of Spain with everything it could–arms, provisions, and medicines. Imbued with revolutionary enthusiasm and the spirit of romanticism Soviet tankmen, pilots, artillerymen, rank-and-file soldiers and prominent military leaders volunteered to fight in Spain.
Zhukov, Georgi. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 141
In the winter of 1936-37 most Russian planes in Spain were flown by Russian pilots, and the attack to drive the Nationalists back from Madrid was opened on Oct. 29 by Russian tanks, driven by Russians, led by the tank specialist General Pavlov and supported by Russian planes.
…Nonetheless, Soviet support was decisive in the autumn of 1936, preventing the Nationalists from winning the war in a few months. Russian advisers and the International Brigades brought order and discipline into the Republican army,…
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 540
[In December 1936] Stalin had sent a letter to the Spanish Prime Minister, Caballero, signed by Molotov & Voroshilov as well as himself, in which he urged the Republican government to avoid social radicalism, enlist the support of the middle class, and broaden the basis of his government “in order to prevent the enemies of Spain from presenting it as a communist republic.”
The fact that the Soviet Union through the Comintern was the only reliable source of arms and supplies gave Stalin the power to intervene in Spanish politics as well as in the war.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 541
“… the Soviet Union sent to the Spanish Government 806 military aircraft, mainly fighters, 362 tanks, 120 armored cars, 1,555 artillery pieces, about 500,000 rifles, 340 grenade launchers, 15,113 machine-guns, more than 110,000 aerial bombs, about 3.4 million rounds of ammunition, 500,000 grenades, 862 million cartridges, 1,500 tons of gunpowder, torpedo boats, air defense searchlight installations, motor vehicles, radio stations, torpedoes and fuel”.
(‘International Solidarity’; op. cit; p.329-30).
and under the new Soviet policy,
“… a little more than 2,000 Soviet volunteers fought and worked in Spain on the side of the Republic throughout the whole war, including 772 airmen, 351 tank men, 222 army advisers and instructors, 77 naval specialists, 100 artillery specialists, 52 other specialists, 130 aircraft factory workers and engineers, 156 radio operators and other signals men, and 204 interpreters”.
(‘International Solidarity’: op. cit. p.328).
In Berlin on 30 may 1937 Hitler stated: After Red airplanes bombed British, German, and Italian ships lying in the harbor of Majorca a few days ago and killed six officers on an Italian ship, German ships were forbidden to remain in the harbor any longer. On Saturday, May 29, 1937, the pocket battleship Deutschland was lying in the roadstead of Ibiza. The ship belongs to the forces assigned to the international sea patrol. In spite of this, the pocket battleship was suddenly bombed between 6 and 7 p.m. by two planes of the Red Valencia Government in a gliding attack…. The result of this criminal attack is that 20 were killed and 73 wounded.
Domarus, Max , Ed. Hitler’s Speeches and Proclamations, 1932-1945. Vol. 2. Wauconda, Illinois: Bolchazy-Carducci, c1990, p. 899
As it became clear that Italy, Germany, and Portugal would not abide by the nonintervention formula and that the insurgent forces were winning, Stalin decided to intervene.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 351
[In a letter to Kaganovich and Chubar on 18 August 1936 Stalin stated] I consider it necessary to sell oil to the Spaniards immediately on the most favorable terms for them, at a discounted price, if need be. If the Spaniards need grain and foodstuffs in general, we should sell all that to them on favorable terms. Let me know how much oil we have already delivered to the Spaniards. Make it incumbent on the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Trade to act quickly and decisively.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 327
[in a letter to Stalin on 18 August 1936 Kaganovich, Ordzhonikidze, and Chubar stated] We heard Comrade Sudin’s progress report on the sale of oil to the Spaniards. It was determined that 6000 tons of fuel oil have been sold as of 18 August, and another tanker has been ordered to fill up with oil.
In accordance with your [Stalin] telegram, the People’s Commissariat of Foreign Trade has been instructed to sell oil to the Spaniards immediately at a reduced price in the necessary amount on the most favorable terms.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 327
[In a letter to Kaganovich on 6 September 1936 Stalin stated] It would be good to sell Mexico 50 high-speed bombers, so that Mexico can immediately resell them to Spain. We could also pick about 20 of our good pilots to perform combat functions in Spain and at the same time give flight training on the high-speed bombers to Spanish pilots. Think this matter over as quickly as possible. It would be good to sell by the same means 20,000 rifles, 1000 machine guns, and about 20 million rounds of ammunition. We just need to know the calibers.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 351
[Footnote to a letter by Kaganovich on 11 October 1936 to Stalin]. On 29 September the Politburo had decided to begin arms deliveries. By 22 October 5 ships had been dispatched to Spain containing 50 tanks, plus fuel and ammunition, 30 hi-speed bombers, and artillery. Further Soviet arms shipments to Spain were made in larger quantities.
Shabad, Steven, trans. The Stalin-Kaganovich Correspondence, 1931-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 368
In the cruel Spanish Civil War which followed, anti-fascists all over the world helped the Republican army. Stalin’s reaction was instantaneous and, once again, enlightened: Soviet advisers, tanks, and planes were rushed to the aid of democracy in Spain–together with a large number of NKVD agents.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 337
… Stalin’s Russia was the only country to provide real help to Republican Spain.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 426
The fact remained that Russia was doing something to try to stop the march of fascism, that communism appeared to extend a helping hand to an embattled democracy, while the French and British statesmen prattled on about nonintervention in Spain, where German planes and pilots and fascism legions were openly assisting Franco.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 427
While Russian military, air, and naval personnel helped the Republican side and the USSR furnished it with supplies, Soviet participation in the Spanish Civil War was veiled in much more mystification than that of the fascist powers.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 468
My father also wondered why the British had not supported the Spanish Republicans, since they had every interest in preventing the expansion of Italy and Germany into Spain. Germany and Italy had sent many troops. France and Britain acted as though neutral and blocked the approaches, and the Soviet Union alone sent arms via the Black Sea. I know this from Admiral Kuznetsov, whom my father met at this time. He commanded a cruiser which escorted the convoys.
Beria, Sergo. Beria, My Father: Inside Stalin’s Kremlin. London: Duckworth, 2001, p. 31
On 15 Oct 1936 Soviet tanks, planes and “advisors” started arriving in Spain to support the Republican government against General Francisco Franco, backed by Hitler and Mussolini.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 200
…more than 2000 Soviet volunteers fought and worked in Spain on the side of the Republic throughout the whole war, including 772 airmen, 351 tank men, 222 army advisors and instructors, 77 naval specialists, 100 artillery specialists, 52 other specialists, 130 aircraft factory workers and engineers, 156 radio operators and other signals men, and 204 interpreters….
The total extent of Soviet military supplies may be seen from the following figures: the Soviet Union sent to the Spanish Government 806 military aircraft, mainly fighters, 363 tanks, 120 armored cars, 1,555 artillery pieces, about 500,000 rifles, 340 grenade launchers, 15,113 machine guns, more than 110,000 aerial bombs, about 3.4 million rounds of ammunition, 500,000 grenades, 862 million cartridges, 1500 tons of gunpowder, torpedo boats, air defense searchlight installations, motor vehicles, radio stations, torpedoes and fuel”.
International Solidarity With the Spanish Republic, 1936-39. Moscow: Progress Publishers, c1974, p. 328-330
Among the more salient denunciations [of the Soviet Union’s assistance to Spain during the Spanish Civil War] are the following: That military aid to Spain came too late and too little; that a large part of the arms were obsolete; that they were given only to communist-led units; that the arms were fed, piece-meal, as it were, to the Governments of Caballero and Negrin in direct proportion to reciprocal controls and influence purportedly granted the Soviets; that the Soviets limited their aid to appease Britain and France; that Russian officers controlled and directed the Madrid armies; that as early as autumn, 1937, the Soviet Union “gave up” on the Spanish revolution and ceased all arms shipments….
And so on, and so on.
The tragedy of the above is that a great part of this quite malicious and self-serving, right-wing propaganda was put forth by both capitulationists and ultras alike…. The word “malicious” is apropos in this case, since each and every point can be easily proven a skillfully perpetrated lie.
Landis, Arthur H. Spain, The Unfinished Revolution, Baldwin Park, California: Camelot Pub. Co. , p. 231
To all those who fault the USSR for not having sent sufficient arms to the Republic the following data should be interesting. The Franco Admiral, Bastarreche, at a conference in Zaragoza in 1960 stated that, “The Nationalist Navy sunk during the period of our war 53 merchant ships with a total of 129,000 tons; captured on the high seas were another 324 ships of some 484,000 tons. Twenty-four foreign ships were also seized, and as many as 1000 detained on the high seas for examination and later released….
Interesting, isn’t it? Among the known Russian ships sunk were the Komsomol, Timiriazev and the Blagoev, all in the Autumn of 1936. A number of others were torpedoed in 1937, as were many Spanish ships of the Republican fleet.
…The evidence then is more than sufficient to conclude that despite the tremendous losses of men, ships, and material along the thousand-mile, submarine-infested run from the Black Sea to Spain, the Soviets had never faltered in their aid to Spain….
Indeed, with 53 merchant ships loaded with Russian arms for Spain torpedoed and sent to the bottom of the Mediterranean, the Soviets have a right to suggest to their unconscionable attackers of the ultra-left, and others, that they not be so hasty with their quite self-serving accusations.
Landis, Arthur H. Spain, The Unfinished Revolution, Baldwin Park, California: Camelot Pub. Co.  page 242-244
The Spanish government rallied all the forces it could on the political left. Spain’s communists in particular stood by it.
The revolutionary tradition impelled Stalin to look favorably on the request from Madrid for help. So too did the awareness that if no resistance to German assertiveness were shown, Europe as a whole would be exposed to the expansionist aims of the Third Reich. Failure to act would be taken as a sign that the policy of the popular front had no substance. Finance and munitions were dispatched by boat to Spain from Leningrad. Simultaneously the Communist International sent the Italian Communist Party leader Togliatti under the alias Ercoli to direct the activities of the Spanish communists.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 387
But he [Stalin] and the Comintern at least did something, and it is hardly likely that the Republicans would have held out so long if he had not sanctioned the Spanish Communist Party’s participation. His Trotskyist critics accused him of excessive pragmatism in his management of the Soviet foreign policy. They ignored the limited resources available to the USSR. Economically, militarily, and ‘above all’ geographically there was no serious chance for him to do more than he achieved at the time.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 389
CHURCHILL SUPPORTS SU MOVING INTO POLAND
Americans still talk as if Stalin and Hitler jointly and cynically divided the unfortunate Poles. But Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, said in a broadcast on October 1, 1939: “The Soviets have stopped the Nazis in eastern Poland; I only regret that they are not doing it as our allies.” A few weeks later, on October 26, Prime Minister Chamberlain himself rather sourly admitted in the House of Commons that “It had been necessary for the Red Army to occupy part of Poland as protection against Germany.”
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 164
There can be little doubt but that Moscow would’ve fallen had the blitz been launched from the old Polish-Soviet and Baltic-Soviet frontiers, rather than from the line which Berlin had been obliged to accept in 1939.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 429
In December 1944 Churchill said, “I cannot feel that Russian demands for reassurance about her western frontiers go beyond limits of what is reasonable or just.”
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 509
SU DESERVED PART OF POLAND AND TAKING IT WAS JUSTIFIED
The chaos that reigned throughout Poland was rapidly becoming civil war in the eastern part of the country. This territory, which Molotov called “Western Ukraine and Byelo– Russia” was inhabited by Ukrainian and Byelo–Russian peasants under Polish landlords. It was not given to Poland by the Versailles Treaty; both Woodrow Wilson and the British Lord Curzon left it outside their “ethnic Poland.” The Polish landlords thrust the new Polish State into a war of aggression in 1920 and took the lands. Through the Warsaw government, which they dominated, the landlords treated their peasants more brutally than had the Russian tsar…. In an effort to Polonize the territory by force they settled demobilized Polish soldiers along the frontier, often by dispossessing whole villages of natives. For 20 years the League of Nations reports indicated that Eastern Poland had one of the most brutally handled minority problems anywhere in Europe.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 165
Special attention must be paid to the secret protocols signed at the same time as the nonaggression pact. They provided for the division of Poland into German and Soviet spheres of influence “in the event of territorial and political changes on the territory belonging to the Polish state.” Some historians regard these agreements as totally wrong and speak of the “fourth partition of Poland.” In their view the Soviet Union could simply have liberated the Polish-occupied parts of Byelorussia and the Ukraine without any preliminary agreement with Germany. England and France had already declared war on Germany, they argue, and Germany would have had to resign itself to the actions of the Red Army. The fact is, however, that at the end of August 1939 no one could have said for certain how England and France would act after Germany’s invasion of Poland. They might still have refrained from declaring war. Both the prospect of German troops emerging on the Soviet border after occupying all of Poland and that of Soviet troops entering Polish territory without prior agreement with Germany entailed great dangers. I must agree that the secret protocols attached to the nonaggression pact were a natural extension of that pact. The Soviet Union was unable to prevent Germany’s invasion of Poland, but it could see to the strengthening of its own defensive positions in case of possible complications –especially since the territory involved was not strictly Polish but where the local Byelorussians and Ukrainian populations had long been struggling for national liberation.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 729
The outbreak of the Polish-Russian war is commonly blamed on the Poles and it is indisputable that their troops started it by invading, at the end of April 1920, the Soviet Ukraine.
Pipes, Richard. Russia Under the Bolshevik Regime. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1993, p. 178
Both [Germany and Russia] were agreed that the new Poland had no right to exist – but the Poles made quite sure of the Russians continuing hatred by invading the Ukraine on April.5, 1920, capturing Kiev, the capital, on May 6. They were only driven out a month later and forced to retreat to Warsaw by a Red Army brilliantly commanded by Tukhachevsky, the man Stalin was to execute in 1937.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 14
Polish leaders eager to take advantage of what they perceived to be the exhaustion of the Red Army invaded the Ukraine and occupied Kiev that May …. A treaty signed at Riga in March 1921 gave Poland a slice of the western Ukraine and pushed the Soviet frontier 100 miles further to the east.
Overy, R. J. Russia’s War: Blood Upon the Snow. New York: TV Books, c1997, p. 23
The Katyn story must begin with the character of the Polish elitist officer corp. Poland was created as an independent country from the ruins of the Germanic, Austrian and Russian empires. The new Polish ruling elite was arrogant and opportunistic. As part of the all out imperialist assault against Soviet Russia, the newly created Polish state launched an unprovoked invasion into its neighboring countries in 1920. The new Soviet Russia was powerless against the Polish invaders, operating in conjunction with a dozen more imperialist countries. Poland annexed a large part of Ukraine, Byelorussia and Lithuania, even taking away its present capital, Vilnius. Some 20 million non-Poles were placed under the rule of the Polish landlords and gentry. Assured the support of England and France, Poland become the gangster of Eastern Europe. It took a fiercely anti-Soviet attitude, becoming an active base for all sorts of anti-Soviet political and terrorist groups that conducted raids and inserted agents into the USSR.
Mukhin, Y.I., Katyn Detective,1995
The Soviet Union had genuine territorial claims on Poland since the period of the Civil War when Poland took advantage of the weakness of the Russian Federation and in 1920 attacked the newly formed Ukrainian and Byelorussian republics as well as Lithuania. As a result of the defeat of the Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic (RSFSR.) in this war, Poland annexed the western regions of the Ukraine, Byelorussia, and Lithuania, including the cities of Lvov, Brest, Grodno, and Vilnius.
Medvedev, Roy & Zhores. The Unknown Stalin. NY, NY: Overlook Press, 2004, p. 235
POLAND TREATS JEWS BADLY
The frictions were complicated by the fact that the cities and trading towns of the region are largely Jewish…. Not even Hitler treated the Jews more brutally than did the ” Poland of the Pans” as the minor nationalities called it, using the Polish term for “Lord.” “A Jew-child is a future Jew; twist its neck when it is born,” read one of the Anti—Semitic posters the Red Army found when it marched into Poland. Frictions between all the minor nationalities had been kept at boiling heat by pogroms.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 165
EASTERN SUPPORT FOR SU MARCHING INTO POLAND
The Red Army’s march was seen in Eastern Europe as a check to this plan of the Nazis, preventing the organization of the East Poland chaos into a Nazi Ukraine.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 165
The arrival of the Red Army was not only unopposed by the population; there are evidences that it was hailed with passionate joy. “Russian troops went into Poland without firing a shot and were seen marching side-by-side with the retiring Polish troops,” said the first Associated Press dispatch.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 165
Ukrainian girls hung flowers on the tanks of the arriving Red Army.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 168
Few people who know the racial composition of Eastern Poland doubted that the population had resented the rule of Warsaw and felt “liberated” when the Red Army came…. Even the Polish Government–in–Exile did not venture to declare the Red Army’s march an act of war.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 169
Deputies from Grodno told how the Jewish and Byelo-Russian workers of the city had organized their own militia before the Red Army came and had rushed out and helped build a bridge for it into the city under the fire of Polish officers.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 169
Poles in fairly large numbers were deported to various places in the Soviet Union. Letters received by their relatives in Europe and America showed that they were scattered all over the USSR; the sending of the letters also indicated that they were not under surveillance but merely deported away from the border district. The Soviet authorities claimed that former Polish officers and military colonists had done considerable sabotage and kept the people disturbed by rumors of imminent invasions by Romanian and British troops…. Most of them then stated that they fully understood the necessity of the Red Army’s march into Poland.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 170
There is no question that the peasants preferred Russians to Germans along their border.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 175
The way was prepared by the Soviet refusal of the boundary line which Hitler first offered in Poland, and which would have given to the Soviets territory in “ethnic Poland” as far as Warsaw. This refusal not only preserved Soviet neutrality in the eyes of Britain but helped convince East European powers that the Soviets were not only strong but just.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 176
Next the Soviets presented Lithuania with her ancient capital Vilno, seized 20 years earlier by the Poles. It was an important gift, being twice the size of the present capital Kaunas; its 550,000 population increased Lithuania’s total population by 20 percent. Molotov later stated that it was not given because Vilno had a Lithuanian population; after 20 years of Polish domination, most of Vilno’s inhabitants were Poles and Jews. “The Soviet government took into consideration…the historic past and…the national aspirations of the Lithuanian people.” In other words that gift was made, not for the sake of Vilno, which didn’t particularly want to be transferred, but for the psychological effect on the Lithuanians.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 176
They added that the Soviets could have demanded anything up to annexation and complete Sovietization of their countries and neither Germany nor the Allies could have stopped it.” Their internal organization was no more affected by the new alliance than the governments in South America are affected by the acquisition of naval bases by the United States. The countries were not even required to join in the defense of the USSR unless the attack upon it came directly across their territory. Baltic diplomats and press therefore commented on the shrewdness and reasonableness of Moscow and on the expected trade advantages; they much resented the term “vassal” applied to them by the Anglo-American press.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 177-178
They [the Baltic Germans–ed.] formed the upper class in the Baltic states. For centuries they had been the outpost of German imperialism eastward; they owned the big estates and dominated the industries. At the time of the Russian revelation, much of the native population sided with the Bolsheviks; it was the Baltic Germans who overthrew the local Red governments, calling the troops of the Kaiser to their aid. The removal of these Baltic Germans by Soviet pressure on Hitler scattered what was, for the USSR the most dangerous Nazi fifth column anywhere in Europe. Baltic newspapers expressed regret mingled with pleasure at their going, and remarked that it gave the natives a chance at the better — paid jobs.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 178
In a sense, the expulsion of the Baltic Germans and the Soviet penetration into the Baltic countries seem to have been direct retribution for the German assault on Poland. A careful reading of the declarations of both Hitler and von Ribbentrop makes this evident.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 225
Americans still speak of Stalin as “Hitler’s accomplice” in cynically dividing Poland. But Winston Churchill said in a radio broadcast October 1st: “The Soviets have stopped the Nazis in Eastern Poland; I only wish they were doing it as our allies.” Bernard Shaw, in the London Times, gave “three cheers for Stalin,” who had given Hitler “his first set-back.” Even Prime Minister Chamberlain sourly told the House of Commons, October 26: “It has been necessary for the Red Army to occupy part of Poland as protection against Germany.” The Polish government-in-exile, which was in flight through Romania at the time but reached London some weeks later, never ventured to declare that Soviet march an act of war.
The population of the area did not oppose the Russian troops but welcomed them with joy. Most were not Poles but Ukrainians and Byelorussians. U.S. Ambassador Biddle reported that the people accepted the Russians “as doing a policing job.” Dispatches told of Russian troops marching side-by-side with retiring Polish troops, of Ukrainian girls hanging garlands on Russian tanks. The Polish commander of the Lvov garrison, who for several days had been fighting against German attacks on three sides, quickly surrendered to the Red Army when it appeared on the fourth side, saying: “There is no Polish government left to give me orders and I have no orders to fight the Bolsheviks.”
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 80
The American view that Stalin and Hitler had petitioned Poland in advance is not borne out by the way the partitioning occurred. The boundary between Germans and Russians changed three times before it was fixed at a conference, September 28. It is unlikely that German troops drove all the way to Lvov and attacked it for several days in order to give the city to the USSR. Nor is it likely that the Russians would have incurred casualties by rushing to Vilna, if the city had been allocated to them in advance.
“Respect for Russia has greatly increased; the peasants unquestionably prefer Russians to Germans along the border,” read an AP cable from past Europe, September 27th.
The march into eastern Poland, thus, seems not a connivance with Hitler but the first great check the Soviets gave to Hitler under the Non-Aggression Pact.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 81
When it became absolutely clear that the Polish state had collapsed, then the Soviet forces entered Poland (on September 17) in order to safeguard her defenses and the people of territories invaded by Soviet forces alike. The truth is that the Soviet army was greeted by the local population as liberators and heroes.
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 572
And indeed, the invading Red Army units were welcomed by many Ukrainian, Belorussian, and Jewish inhabitants of this territory where the dominant Poles were an ethnic minority living mainly in the towns and the non-Polish population suffered discrimination.
Tucker, Robert. Stalin in Power: 1929-1941. New York: Norton, 1990, p. 601
PRIESTS WELCOME BOLSHEVIKS
Dovzhenko laughed when I asked him about the attitude of the Ukrainian priests. “It is probably the first place where priests welcomed the Bolsheviks,” he said…. Under the Poles they were constantly being arrested for such crimes as “false registry of names,” which meant that they registered children in the Ukrainian language instead of in Polish.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 173
PEOPLE EXPERIENCE FREEDOM WITH FURY
There is no fury greater than that of people who, after centuries of oppression, have glimpsed freedom for a little while.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 174
FINNISH INDEPENDENCE CAME FROM BOLSHEVIKS
Finnish independence was a gift from the Bolshevik revolution. Any schoolteacher in present-day Finland would lose her job if she mentioned this incontrovertible historic fact. When Kerensky came to power, Finland applied for independence. The Kerensky government refused. Neither Britain, France, America, nor any foreign power approved of Finland’s independence in those days. Only the Bolsheviks approved.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 180
FINLAND SERVED THE NAZIS
This early democratically elected Finland was quickly suppressed. Baron Mannerheim, a tsarist general, called in German troops to overthrow the government.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 180
Finland was therefore known to the Soviet leaders as the most hostile of all the Baltic states.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 182
With the aid of German officers and engineers, Finland had been converted into a powerful fortress to serve as a base for the invasion of the Soviet Union. Twenty-three military airports had been constructed on Finnish soil, capable of accommodating 10 times as many planes as there were in the Finnish Air Force.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 332
As for the Finns, they carried out unrestrained propaganda against the Soviet Union. There can be no doubt that Finland was eager to join in a campaign against the Soviet Union.
Schecter, Jerrold. Trans & Ed. Khrushchev Remembers: the Glasnost Tapes. Boston: Little, Brown, c1990, p. 51
BOLSHEVIKS GAVE FINNS GOOD TERMS
Moscow first proposed an alliance such a she had with her other Baltic states, but almost at once dropped the proposal in view of Finland’s clear unwillingness…. The Soviets wanted the frontier moved back far enough to take Leningrad out of gunshot from Finland; they did not ask, as some have thought, for the Mannerheim Line. They also wanted some small islands that covered Leningrad’s sea approach. They offered in return twice as much equally good but less strategic land; later they raised the offer. They also asked a 30 year lease of Hangoe, or some other point at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland, as a naval base.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 183
In the peace terms the Soviet Union exacted from Finland considerably more territory adjacent to Leningrad than had originally been asked….The naval base at Hangoe was secured. But the Soviets returned Petsamo and the nickel mines near it, which they had captured. They asked no indemnities but agreed on a treaty whereby they supplied Finland with food. As terms go these were not excessive.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 191
Sir Stafford Cripps, British ambassador to Moscow, thinks that the terms might have been stiffer. He told me that all the Soviet annexations from Finland to Bessarabia had been necessary strategic moves against the coming attack by Hitler. He added: “the Soviets may be sorry someday that they didn’t take more of Finland when they could.”
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 191
Sir Stafford was wrong. Stalin’s sense of timing is better than Sir Stafford’s.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 191
EASTERN EUROPE SUPPORT FOR RED ARMY MARCHING IN
The most applauded folk in all Lithuania during my visit were the Red Army Boys. At concerts, dances, trade union meetings, I heard them mentioned scores of times and never without cheers.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 200
Old-time Lithuanians said: “we have seen in our lives three armies — the old tsarist Army, the German Army of occupation during the first World War, and now these Soviet troops. This is by far the most cultured Army we have ever known.” As boosters for the Soviet Union’s reputation, the Red Army did an excellent job.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 202
At the American Legation they explained that [Lithuanian] people were afraid not to come to the elections. But Smetona [right-wing Lithuanian president] had openly used police terror to make the peasants come to previous elections, yet they had not come. It was not terror that brought them to the places I visited; it was new hope.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 208
On July 21, 1940, Lithuania became a Soviet Socialist Republic by unanimous vote of the People’s Sejm…. A few hours later, on the same day, Latvia and Estonia followed.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 212
What is the use of all these little nations? They only put on heavy taxes for big armies and then their armies are no good anyway. We see what is happening in Europe to all the little countries.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 214
They secured a wide buffer belt from the coast of Finland to the Black Sea.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 220
Summing up, it seemed that life was no worse in Rumania for those who had stayed behind to greet the Russians, and that there were definite improvements for most people. The conservative peasant still had his land and kept more of the product of his labor. There were still plenty of cattle about. The worker had freedom and a sense of new power. The Jew was out of the concentration camps. He had equal rights and a chance to live. All had religious freedom; churches and their institutions were not being molested.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 38
In his speech to the supreme Soviet on October 31, 1939, Molotov said:
“When the Red Army marched into these regions it was greeted with general sympathy by the Ukrainian and Byelorussian population who welcomed our troops as liberators from the yoke of the gentry, from the yoke of the Polish landlords and capitalists.”
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 572
Some writers have condemned the “division of Poland” between Hitler and Stalin, the “occupation” of the Baltic states, and the “immoral collusion” of the two dictators. But the situation was more complicated. As a witness to the events that unfolded in the fall of 1939, I cannot forget the atmosphere in western Byelorussia and western Ukraine in those days. The people there met us with flowers, they held bread-breaking ceremonies to welcome us, gave us fruits and milk. Owners of small cafes offered free meals to Soviet officers. Those were genuine feelings. The people believed that the Red Army would protect them from Hitler’s terror. Similar things were happening in the Baltic countries. As the Wehrmacht units marched nearer, many people fled to the east, looking for safety in the territory controlled by the Red Army.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 278
Units of the Byelorussians and Kiev special military districts met no resistance in crossing the Polish frontier. Stalin read dispatches from Timoshenko, Vatutin, Purkaev, Gordov, Khrushchev and others. One from Mekhlis drew his special attention:
“The Ukrainian population is meeting our army like true liberators…. The population is greeting our troops and officers; they bring out apples, pies, drinking water and try to thrust them into our soldiers’ hands. As a rule, even advance units are being met by entire populations coming out on to the streets. Many weep with joy.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 359
The troops were allowed to use their weapons only if attacked. Only isolated armed clashes took place. There was in fact no resistance. The ethnic majority, being Ukrainians and Byelorussians, sincerely welcomed the arrival of the Soviet forces.
…In June 1940 the Soviet government succeeded in recovering Bessarabia and the northern Bukovina by peaceful means, and by agreement with the Rumanian government the frontier was re-established along the rivers Prut and Danube. The Moldavian Soviet Republic had been formed.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 361
The decision to take over Western Ukraine and Byelorussia, in the face of advancing German Armies, was in my view justified, and it was broadly in accord with the desire of the local working-class population.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 386
I phoned the General Headquarters at once. Stalin told me:
“Don’t disarm the Bulgarian troops. Let them be while they are waiting for orders from their government.”
By this simple act the General Headquarters of the Supreme High Command expressed its full confidence in the Bulgarian people and army who gave a fraternal welcome to the Red Army as their liberator from Nazi occupation and from the Tsarist pro-Fascist regime.
Zhukov, Georgi. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 548
RUSSIAN-GERMAN NON-AGGRESSION PACT WAS NEEDED
The non-aggression pact was not an alliance…. Without violating the pact, the Soviet Union was free to oppose, even by armed force, a German attack on Turkey or Yugoslavia. She agreed not to take part in aggression against Germany, but had promised nothing about resisting an aggression that the Nazis might start…. The pact did more; the Soviet Union, acting as a neutral, blocked Nazi expansion on several important occasions more effectively than could have been done by engaging in war.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 220
The pact was accompanied by a trade agreement in which the USSR agreed to supply Germany with certain raw materials in exchange for German machines. No estimates ever made of this trade place it as high as that carried on in 1931 between the USSR and German Republic — in other words, normal commercial trade. The USSR never became the “arsenal” for Germany in anything like the sense in which America, while still technically neutral, became the arsenal for Great Britain. America has even been the arsenal for Japan in her war against China to a far greater extent then be USSR ever was for Germany. The only commodity sent by the Soviets to Germany that could be classed as a war commodity was oil; the highest foreign guesses assume that the Soviets may possibly have sent as much as a million tons. America’s supply of oil to Japan even under the government licensing system was more than three times as much. In the second year of the pact, the Soviets signed a trade treaty with Romania up by which they got Romanian oil that Hitler presumably wanted.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 220
There is no proof of the often–made assertion that the non-aggression pact provoked Hitler’s march into Poland.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 220
The boundary between Germany and the USSR in Poland was changed three times. This suggests a rapid improvising by two powers that do not wish to fight each other, rather than a pre-determination of boundaries.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 222
The Soviet Union, in the 22 months of the pact’s duration, had checked Nazi expansion more than it was checked by all of Europe’s Armed Forces — Polish, Norwegian, Dutch, Belgian, French, Greek, Yugoslav, and British — combined.
Strong, Anna L. The Soviets Expected It. New York, New York: The Dial press, 1941, p. 234
Chamberlain spoke of the pact as a “bomb shell” and “a very unpleasant surprise.” But this was pretense. He was not surprised save at the sudden realization that he had been outplayed in the game of “lets you and him fight.”
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 373
In the last analysis neither the USSR nor the western democracies won the diplomatic game of 1939. Both lost. Only Hitler won. The fact remains that Anglo-French policy gave Stalin and Molotov no viable alternative to the course they finally adopted.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 379
If Stalin himself did not want to go under, he must fight for the existence of British-American ‘capitalism.’ To such a paradoxical result had the law of historical development led. Stalin had meant to be the leader of a world revolution. The destiny of his success forced him to become simply a Russian statesman. As such he had procured for the Soviet Union a respite of nearly 18 months. His policy did not lead to the onset of the world revolution, but it did bring Russia into the Second World War under the most favorable conditions that could be secured. The feared war on two fronts, which would probably had been the end of Russia, had been avoided. The danger had existed all the time that Russia might be faced alone with an enemy of superior strength, or even a number of enemies. Now the Soviet Union entered the war at the side of the most powerful states in the world. As head of the Russian state, Stalin had made good.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 358
From that time on, Russia used the breathing-space granted by the Pact, not only to prepare for defense but to block Hitler’s penetration of East Europe through measures short of war. Hitler revealed this later in his declaration of war against the USSR and bitterly listed the Russian acts that blocked him.
Moscow’s first move was to build a wide buffer belt along her western border by alliances…. Moscow invited Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia to send foreign ministers to Moscow to discuss an alliance. One by one, they went and signed…. The Baltic states, themselves, resented the term “vassal” applied to them by the Anglo-American press. They thought themselves not badly off. Their internal organization was not at the time affected; they merely gave bases to the USSR in return for help in their defense.
The dramatic expulsion of half a million Germans from the Baltic States followed. How bitterly Hitler resented this was shown in his declaration of war when he told how “far more than 500,000 men and women…were forced to leave their homeland…. To all this I remained silent, because I had to.” These are not words of a complacent victor. The Baltic Germans were the upper class in the Baltic States; some had been there as landed barons for centuries. It was they who, at the time of the Russian Revolution, brought in the German troops to overthrow local red governments. Their expulsion scattered what was for the USSR the most dangerous fifth-column in Europe.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 82
Many say that the treaty with Hitlerite Germany allowed us to do what we wanted with Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland, and Romania. Naturally, we understood that there were concessions to us in the Treaty and that they were to our advantage. I want to say this straightforwardly. The access we gained to the Baltic Sea significantly improved our strategic situation. By reaching the shores of the Baltic, we deprived the Western powers of a foothold that they might use against us–and that they actually had used during the civil war–for establishing a front against the USSR.
Schecter, Jerrold. Trans & Ed. Khrushchev Remembers: the Glasnost Tapes. Boston: Little, Brown, c1990, p. 51
At half-past-six on the afternoon of July 3, 1941, the day after his return to Moscow, Stalin spoke to his people:
“One must ask how could it have happened that the Soviet Government consented to conclude the Pact of Non-Aggression with such felons and monsters as Hitler and Ribbentrop. Had not the Soviet government thereby made a mistake? Of course not. A Pact of Non-Aggression is a pact of peace between two countries. It was just such a Pact that Germany offered us in 1939. Could the Soviet Government reject such an offer? I think no peace-loving country should reject an agreement with a neighboring State, even if at the head of that state stand such monsters and cannibals as Hitler and Ribbentrop. This, naturally, depends on the indispensable conditions that the peace agreement does not infringe either directly or indirectly the territorial integrity, independence, and honor of the peace-loving country.”
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 141
SELFLESS AID TO OTHER COUNTRIES
Second Meeting of Hoxha with Stalin
I mention this, Stalin continued, to show how important it is to bear in mind the concrete conditions of each country, because the conditions of one country are not always identical with those of other countries. That is why no one should copy our experience or that of others, but should only study it and profit from it by applying it according to the concrete conditions of his own country.
“The chief of your General Staff,” Comrade Stalin told me, “has sent us some requests for your army. We ordered that all of them should be met. Have you received what you wanted?”
“We have not yet received any information about this,” I said.
At this moment Stalin called in a general and charged him with gathering precise information about this question. After a few minutes the telephone rang. Stalin took up the receiver and, after listening to what was said, informed me that the materiel was en route.
“Did you get the rails?” he asked. “Is the railway completed?”
“We got them,” I told him, “and we have inaugurated the railway, and continued to outline the main tasks of the plan for the economic and cultural development of the country and the strengthening of its defenses.”
On this occasion I also presented our requests for aid from the Soviet Union.
Just as previously, Comrade Stalin received our requests sympathetically and said to us quite openly:
“Comrades, we are a big country, but you know that we have not yet eliminated all the grave consequences of the war. However, we shall help you today and in the future, perhaps not all that much, but with those possibilities we have. We understand that you have to set up and develop the sector of socialist industry, and in this direction we agree to fulfill all the requests you have presented to us, as well as those for agriculture.”
Then, smiling, he added:
“But will the Albanians themselves work?”
I understood why he asked me this question. It was the result of the evil-intended information of the Armenian huckster, Mikoyan, who, at a meeting I had with him, not only spoke to me in a language quite unlike that of Stalin, but also used harsh terms in his criticisms about the realization of plans in our country, alleging that our people did not work, etc. His intention was to reduce the rate and amount of aid. This was always Mikoyan’s stand. But Stalin accorded us everything we sought.
“We shall also send you the cadres you asked for,” he said, “and they will spare no effort to help you but, of course, they will not stay in Albania forever. Therefore, comrades, you must train your own cadres, your own specialists, to replace ours. This is an important matter. However many foreign cadres come to your country, you will still need your own cadres. Therefore, comrades,” he advised us, “you must open your university, which will be a great centre for training your future cadres.”
“We have opened the first institutes,” I told Comrade Stalin, “and work is going ahead in them, but we are still only at the beginning. Apart from experience and textbooks, we also lack the cadres necessary for opening the university.”
“The important thing is to get started,” he said. “Then step by step, everything will be achieved. For our part, we shall assist you both with literature and with specialists, in order to help increase the number of higher institutes which are the basis for the creation of the university in the future.”
“The Soviet specialists,” Comrade Stalin went on, “will be paid by the Albanian government the same salaries as the Albanian specialists. Don’t grant them any favor more than your specialists enjoy.”
“The Soviet specialists come from far away,” I replied, “and we cannot treat them the same as ours.” Comrade Stalin objected at once:
“No, no, whether they, come from Azerbaijan or any other part of the Soviet Union, we have our rules for the treatment of the specialists we send to the assistance of the fraternal peoples. It is their duty to work with all their strength as internationalist revolutionaries, to work for the good of Albania just as for the good of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Government undertakes to make up the necessary difference in their salaries.”
Hoxha, Enver. With Stalin: Memoirs. Tirana: 8 N‘ntori Pub. House, 1979.
We assisted Spanish democracy, which had not yet become Socialist. We assisted China in her struggle against Japanese imperialism, although China is not yet a Socialist country.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 241
COMINTERN WAS NECESSARY REGARDLESS
It has been asserted that the Comintern was formed as an appendage of the Soviet Foreign Office. That assertion I regard as wholly inaccurate. There is ample evidence in Lenin’s writings to prove that he would have established it even had there been no Russian Revolution.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 190
STALIN SIGNED WITH HITLER BECAUSE OF ALLIED REJECTION
This [the masses having to choose between bourgeois democracy and fascism] continued until 1939, when the reluctance of the non-aggressor powers to ally themselves with the Soviet Union led Stalin to sign the non-aggression pact with Germany.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 198
SOVIETS BANKED ON CAPITALIST DISAGREEMENTS
While they [communist parties of other countries] recognized differences in the capitalist countries and differences between them, there is always the assumption in their policy that the capitalists would converge into a common front against the USSR…. But once again the contradictory interests of the capitalist States intervened and saved us [communist parties] from that disaster.
Fortunately capitalism as a whole has never been able to secure world unity on anything.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 199
STALIN TRIED TO AID THE WORLD’S WORKERS
Naturally the capitalist elements of every country, each influenced by their own special interests, accused the Bolsheviks in general and the Soviet Government in particular of responsibility for all the “disturbances” and “unrest” in the world. Stalin answered the critics: “The accusation does us too much honor! Unfortunately, we’re not yet strong enough to give all the colonial countries direct aid in their struggle for liberation…”
Russian trade unions collected 1 million pounds from their members to aid locked-out British miners. This incident undoubtedly paved the way to the severing of diplomatic relations with the Soviet Union in 1927, but the severance did not divert Stalin from the policy of aiding the workers of other countries.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 206
To be sure, Stalin never ignored the interests of the Soviet state and he was often cautious to the point of pessimism about the prospects for immediate revolution. But the letters show that he was also capable of hope and enthusiasm when revolution seemed to be on the move and ready to put his money where his mouth was.
… All in all, Stalin comes out of the letters with his revolutionary credentials in good order.
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 36
In an October 7, 1929, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “I think that it’s time to think about organizing an uprising by a revolutionary movement in Manchuria…. We need to organize two double regiment brigades, chiefly made up of Chinese, outfit them with everything necessary (artillery, machine guns, and so on), put Chinese at the head of the brigade, and send them into Manchuria with the following assignment: to stir up a rebellion among the Manchurian troops, to have reliable soldiers from these forces join them…to occupy Harbin, and after gathering force, to declare Chang Hsueh-liang overthrown, establish a revolutionary government (massacre the landowners, bring in the peasants, create soviets in the cities and towns, and so on). This is necessary. This we can and, I think, should do….
…The matter will have to be put on the agenda of the Central Committee plenum. I should think that Bukharin is going to be kicked out of the Politburo.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 182
When Stalin looked out onto the capitalist world and the survivals within it of its “feudal” predecessor, he saw that it was evil. He saw that the overwhelming majority of the world’s people were compelled to work back-breakingly hard just to continue to exist in dreadful poverty, starvation, ignorance, humiliation, oppression, and war. Many Westerners are tempted to say that Stalin and the other Communists exaggerated the misery of the tolling masses of the world, but after looking carefully we realize that it is impossible for anyone, even Stalin, to exaggerate the horror of being poor.
Randall, Francis. Stalin’s Russia. New York: Free Press,1965, p. 81
[In an interview with an American labor delegation on September 7, 1927 Stalin stated] But what would happen if the Communist Party of America did appeal to the Communist Party of the USSR for assistance? I think that the Communist Party of the USSR would render it what assistance it could. Indeed, what would be the worth of the Communist Party, particularly as it is in power, if it refused to do what it could to assist the Communist Party of another country living under the yoke of capitalism? I should say that such a Communist Party would not be worth a farthing.
Let us assume that the American working-class had come into power after overthrowing its bourgeoisie; …would the American working-class refuse such assistance? I think it would cover it self with disgrace if it hesitated to render assistance.
Stalin, Joseph. Works. Moscow: Foreign Languages Pub. House, 1952, Vol. 10, p. 136
STALIN FELT FULLY JUSTIFIED IN SIGNING THE PACT
It was a dramatic moment when in the conference room of the Kremlin, Stalin and Molotov, the leaders of world revolution, stood side-by-side with Ribbentrop the spokesman of Hitler, the leader of world counter-revolution. But Stalin was unperturbed. His evaluation of the course of events and of the forces engaged was not that of the frantic critics in the West. Rightly or wrongly, he was convinced that he had averted, at least for a time, a war with Nazi Germany in which the Chamberlain and Daladier Governments of Britain and France would have become first Hitler’s arms merchants and finally his co-belligerents. He felt that his conscience had nothing with which to reproach him. He laughed to scorn those who regarded the pact as a wedding of Bolshevism and Nazism, and regarded their attacks as the chatter of fools. Why should he be regarded as a criminal for signing such an agreement when the statesmen of the critics’ own governments had been in constant political and personal association with the leaders of Nazism and Fascism, and had made pacts with them without consulting the Soviet Union or even the League of Nations, of which they were members and with which they were pledged to prior consultation?
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 215-16
As for Stalin’s decision to sign the Treaty, that was also a political maneuver. He thought he was deceiving Hitler, turning him against the West. I don’t think either Stalin or Hitler took the Treaty seriously. Each was pursuing his own goals. Hitler’s were those that we knew from Mein Kampf. Stalin understood correctly what Hitler was up to, but he thought he could deflect the blow of the German army away from the USSR and direct it at the West, and in that way buy time. Of course, the West, meanwhile, did everything it could to turn Hitler against the East.
Schecter, Jerrold. Trans & Ed. Khrushchev Remembers: the Glasnost Tapes. Boston: Little, Brown, c1990, p. 50
These events served to feed the suspicion and arouse the dissatisfaction of the realistic Soviet leaders, including Stalin. Apparently they got “fed up” with attempting to stop the aggressors by participation in European affairs, and characteristically boldly reversed their attitude and decided to secure their own position by making a pact of nonaggression with Germany, which would assure peace for Russia, at least for a time, regardless of any possibility of war in Europe.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 456
At the same time, however, it was obvious that a rapprochement between the Soviet Union and France, marked by the signing of a mutual assistance treaty, was proceeding at an even more intense pace. The Soviet Union had also joined the League of Nations and was conducting intensive diplomatic and political activities aimed at curbing the aggressive aims and actions of the ruling circles in Germany, Italy, and Japan.
The policy of the Soviet Union found very little support among the ruling parties of England and France. They, like Hitler, were pursuing a double game at that time, playing now an anti-Soviet card, now an antifascist one. Under the circumstances, Soviet diplomats also had to play a double game….
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 725
…As Stalin learned, his negotiating partners were, moreover, simultaneously continuing their secret efforts to reach an acceptable understanding with Hitler. It was clear that Britain and France were simply playing for time while seeking the most favorable outcome from their own point of view and without regard for Soviet interests. In effect, the Western powers offered no concrete ideas for joint action against Germany. Their intention was plainly to let the USSR play the chief part in resisting possible German aggression without giving guarantees that they would share a proportion of the burden.
…By the end of the summer of 1939 in had become plain to the Soviet leadership that, with Nazi Germany to the West and militaristic Japan to the East, in had no one on whom to rely. The argument Stalin had put forward at the 18th Congress seemed justified: anti-communism and a lack of a desire by Britain and France to pursue a policy of collective security had opened the sluice gates for aggression by the anti-Comintern pact. London and Paris were blinded to the real danger by their self-interest and hatred of socialism. Short-sighted politicians were saying, let Hitler make his anti-Communist crusade in the east. He seemed to them the lesser evil.
The Soviet Union faced an extremely limited choice, but Stalin realized that it must be made, however negative the reaction in other countries. As a pragmatist, he cast ideological principles aside and, once he was sure the Anglo-French-Soviet talks would not produce results, he resorted to the German option which was being offered so assiduously by Berlin. He thought there was now no other choice. The alternative was to place the USSR in confrontation with the broad anti-Soviet front, which would be far worse. He had no time to think of what successive generations would say. The war was at hand and he had to postpone its outbreak at any cost.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 351
Looking back, the Non-Aggression Pact appears extremely tarnished, and morally an alliance with the Western democracies would have been immeasurably preferable. But neither Britain nor France was ready for such an alliance. From the point of view of state interest the Soviet Union had no other acceptable choice. A refusal to take any step would hardly have stopped Germany. The Wehrmacht and the nation were tuned to such a degree of readiness that the invasion of Poland was a foregone conclusion. Assistance to Poland was hampered not only by Warsaw’s attitude, but also by the Soviet Union’s unpreparedness. Rejection of the pact would could have led to the formation of a broad anti-Soviet alliance and threatened the very existence of socialism.
In any case, Britain and France had both signed similar pacts with Germany in 1938 and were conducting secret talks with Hitler in the summer of 1939 with the aim of creating an anti-Soviet bloc. It is commonly suggested that the pact triggered the start of the Second World War, while it is commonly forgotten that by then the Western powers had already sacrificed Austria, Czechoslovakia and Memel to Hitler, and that Britain and France had done nothing to save the Spanish republic.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 356
After the war, the French Communist leader Bonte stated that the Kemsley visit, along with knowledge of the clandestine meeting between Goering and the British businessman, had been the chief factors in influencing the Soviets to seek an agreement with Germany. While this is certainly an exaggeration, there can be no doubt that the undercover dealings did have a strong influence on Stalin, as well as on Hitler, who was convinced by them that Britain would not fight. How could the Soviet leader trust a government which continued to indulge in such underhand activities while supposedly negotiating seriously with him? Admittedly, he was himself talking to the Germans, but he could always justify this as insurance, in case the Allied talks failed.
In keeping his options open until the very last moment, Stalin does seem to have been prepared to give the allies every opportunity to succeed.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 230
To the people of the USSR and foreign Communists, this Soviet-German Pact was a blow. True Communists were dismayed that Socialist Russia should make a treaty with the arch-enemy Hitler. They regarded Fascism as “the most aggressive form of Capitalism and Imperialism.”
But Stalin had his answer. He called the unpopular pact a “Marriage of Reason” and slowly the Soviet nation swallowed the pill, accepted their leader’s explanation, and even began to agree that Stalin had made “one of the wisest moves in history.”
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 131
At half-past-six on the afternoon of July 3, 1941, the day after his return to Moscow, Stalin spoke to his people:
“What did we gain by concluding a Pact of Non-Aggression with Germany? We assured our country peace during 18 months, as well as an opportunity of preparing our forces for the event of Germany’s attacking our country. This was a gain for us, and a loss for Fascist Germany.”
Fishman and Hutton. The Private Life of Josif Stalin. London: W. H. Allen, 1962, p. 142
STALIN MOVED INTO POLISH TERRITORY WHEN JUSTIFIED
Accordingly, in the hour when the Polish government and general staff abandoned their country to its fate, with a promptitude that once more surprised the world Stalin set the Red Army on the march towards the “Curzon line.” This line, which had been universally recognized as the Russo-Polish boundary until the Poles tore a great area of white Russia and the Ukraine from the Soviets during the intervention wars, meant an advance through territory containing 12 million inhabitants. The banner of Revolution was raised, and to the rescue of these 12 million former Soviet subjects the Red Army hastened.
However the argument may go, the fact is that Stalin did not send the Red Army into the onetime Polish territory until there was no government left in Poland and the country was wide-open for the Nazis to acquire land as far beyond the “Curzon Line” as they chose.
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 215
Their [the Russians] immediate purpose was to occupy as quickly as possible the Polish area whose possession they had wrung from Germany as part of the price for their pact of friendship and their supplies of oil, grain, manganese, and cotton. That they did this with no regard for Polish or Anglo-American public opinion is neither to their detriment nor their credit; it simply showed that Stalin, fully alive to the danger of Nazi invasion, was determined to put as much space as possible between his prepared defense zone and the coming blitzkrieg.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 251
STALIN FEELS THE COMINTERN MUST BE DISBANDED
Stalin stated, “It is true that at one time I did think, with Lenin, that the process of world Revolution could be led by a centralized international Communist Party–the Communist international. Experience, however, has proved that this is not possible. Hence the dissolution of the Communist international and the decision that each Communist Party must pursue its own aims and tasks independently, guided by the teachings of Marx and Lenin and the experiences of the Comintern….”
Murphy, John Thomas. Stalin, London, John Lane, 1945, p. 241
In this regard, Stalin said on 11 May 1943, “Experience has shown that one cannot have an international directing center for all countries. This became evident in Marx’s lifetime, in Lenin’s, and today. There should perhaps be a transition to regional associations, for example, of South America, of the United States and Canada, of certain European countries, and so on, but even this must not be rushed….
Dimitrov, Georgi, The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933-1949. Ed. Ivo Banac. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 271
On 21 May 1943 Stalin explained that experience has shown that in Marx’s time, in Lenin’s time, and now, it is impossible to direct the working-class movement of all countries from a single international center. Especially now, in wartime conditions, when Communist parties in Germany, Italy, and other countries have the tasks of overthrowing their governments and carrying out defeatist tactics, while Communist parties in the USSR, England, America and other countries, on the contrary, have the task of supporting their governments to the fullest for the immediate destruction of the enemy. We overestimated our resources when we were forming the Comintern and believed that we would be able to direct the movement in all countries. That was our error. The further existence of the Comintern would discredit the idea of the International, which we do not desire.
There is one other reason for dissolving the Comintern, which is not mentioned in the resolution. That is the fact that the Communist parties making up the Comintern are being falsely accused of supposedly being agents of a foreign state, and this is impeding their work in the broad masses. Dissolving the Comintern knocks this trump card out of the enemy’s hands. The step now been taken will undoubtedly strengthen the Communist parties as national working-class parties and will at the same time reinforce the internationalism of the popular masses, whose base is the Soviet Union.
Dimitrov, Georgi, The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933-1949. Ed. Ivo Banac. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 275
SU REPEATEDLY SEEKS TO UNITE ANTI-FASCIST NATIONS
In face of the growing war threat, the Soviet government repeatedly called for united action by all countries menaced by fascist aggression.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 270
The verdict of the record is unmistakable and obvious: responsibility for the breakdown of collective security rests on the Western democracies, not on the Soviet Union.
The melancholy details of the record need no restatement, except as they bear upon the situation in which the USSR found itself by 1939. Eight times during the preceding eight years the aggressors posed to the Western democracies a test of their willingness to organize and enforce peace. Eight times the Soviet Union called for collective action against aggression. Eight times the Western power evaded their responsibilities and blessed the aggressors.
The first test was posed by the Japanese seizure of Manchuria in September 1931. The second test was posed by Hitler’s repudiation of the disarmament clauses of Versailles in March 1935. The third test was posed by the fascist invasion of Ethiopia in October 1935. The fourth test was posed by Hitler’s remilitarization of the Rhineland in March 1936. The fifth test was posed by the fascist attack of the Spanish Republic. The sixth test was posed by the resumption of the Japanese attack on China in July 1937. The seventh test was posed by the nazi seizure of Austria in March 1938. The eighth test was posed by the unleasheding, through propaganda, diplomacy, and terrorism, of the nazi campaign against Prague in the summer 1938.
Chamberlain flew three times to Germany on the principal that “if you don’t concede the first time, fly, fly, again.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 275-80
On May 3, 1939, Litvinov resigned as Commissar for Foreign Affairs. He was the incarnation of collective security.
Schuman, Frederick L. Soviet Politics. New York: A.A. Knopf, 1946, p. 366
By March 1938 there was a ample reason for Soviet leaders to fear war. Japanese aggression in the Soviet Far East and in China, the Spanish fascists’ victories over the army of the Spanish Republic and the International Brigades, Germany’s increasingly menacing policies and its occupation of Austria, and the anemic reaction of Western powers to these events and their reticence in supporting Soviet collective security efforts provided sufficient cause for concern in Moscow.
Chase, William J., Enemies Within the Gates? translated by Vadim A. Staklo, New Haven: Yale University Press, c2001, p. 294.
STALIN OFFERED FINLAND VERY GOOD TERMS
During the first week of October, 1939, while still negotiating its new treaties with the Baltic states, the Soviet Government proposed a mutual assistance pact with Finland. Moscow offered to cede several thousand square miles of Soviet territory on central Karelia in exchange for some strategic Finnish islands near Leningrad, a portion of the Karelian Isthmus, and a 30 year lease on the port of Hango for the construction of a Soviet naval base. The Soviet leaders regarded these latter territories as essential to the defense of the Red naval base at Kronstadt and the city of Leningrad.
…But the pro-Nazi clique dominating the Finnish government refused to make any concessions and broke off all the negotiations.
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 333
Then Finland sued for peace, and, surprisingly, the Kremlin asked little more than its terms before the war began–a frontier somewhat more distant, the Mannerheim Line disrmed, and the occupation by Soviet units of strategic points like the island of Hango.
Duranty, Walter. The Kremlin and the People. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941, p. 179
Having secured the southern Baltic against surprise attack, Moscow approached Finland, which holds the gateway of the north. Though Finland’s independence was a free gift from the Russian Revolution, Finland was known as the most hostile of the Baltic States. That early democratic Finland had been bloodily overthrown by Baron Mannerheim, an ex-Czarist general, with the aid of the kaiser’s troops. Finland had become a base for international actions against the USSR…. Finland’s air fields were built by the Nazis. Made to accommodate 2,000 planes, when Finland had 150, they were clearly designed for use by a major power….
The Finnish delegation came to Moscow October 11th. The Soviets proposed an alliance, but dropped it since the Finns were unwilling. Then they proposed an exchange of territory to protect Leningrad. They asked that the border be moved back enough to take Leningrad out of gunshot and that some small islands, guarding the sea approach, be given to the USSR. They offered in return twice as much territory, equally good but less strategic. They also asked a 30 year lease of Hangoe or some other point at the entrance to the Gulf of Finland–that long thin waterway that leads to Leningrad–as a naval base. President Cajander, of Finland, broadcast a statement that the terms did not affect Finland’s integrity.
A month of bargaining went on in which Moscow raised her offers. Finland stood to get nearly 3 to 1 in the territorial trade; and Hangoe base would be held, not 30 years, but only during the Anglo-German war and would then come to Finland fully equipped. Many Finns were boasting of the “smart bargain” their diplomats were getting. Then, suddenly, the Finnish negotiators broke off discussions with the cryptic remark that circumstances would decide when and by whom they would be renewed….
So when Finnish artillery shot over the border in late November and killed Red Army men, Moscow sharply protested, and, when Finland disregarded the protest, Soviet troops marched into Finland on November 30, 1939. Finland declared war and appealed for foreign aid.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 83
Compared with our own vast territorial and natural resources, Finland had little to offer us in the way of land and forests. Our sole consideration was security– Leningrad was in danger.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 152
On April 8, 1938, the NKVD resident in Finland, Rybkin, was summoned to the Kremlin,… Rybkin was ordered to offer the Finnish government a secret deal, sharing interests in Scandinavia and economic cooperation with the Soviet Union, on the conditions of their signing a pact of mutual economic and military assistance in case of aggression by third parties. The pact was to guarantee Finland eternal safety from attack by European powers and mutual economic privileges for the two countries on a permanent basis. Included in the proposals was a division of spheres of military and economic influence over the Baltic areas that lay between Finland and the Soviet Union.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 94
On Oct. 14, 1939, a Soviet note made firm proposals for an exchange of territory, together with a 30 year lease of the Hango peninsula and frontier adjustments in the Petsamo area and on the Karelian Isthmus. The Finns refused to yield at any point. Attempts to negotiate continued, but made no progress. On Nov. 13, 1939, Stalin broke them off. His patience was exhausted. He decided to use force.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 312
Encouraged by the success of his [Stalin] measures on the western borders, he now turned his attention to the northwest. He was worried by the proximity of the Finnish border to Leningrad and Finland’s obvious inclination towards Germany. Talks were conducted with the aim of compelling the Finns to move their border further from Leningrad for appropriate territorial compensation, but the Finnish foreign minister, Tanner, was under instruction from the country’s head of state, Field Marshal Mannerheim, a former general in the tsarist army, not to yield to the Russians…. At the end of November mutual recriminations started up over unprovoked exchanges of fire, notably in the vicinity of the Soviet village of Mainilo. Molotov handed the Finnish envoy, Irne-Koskinen, a note which contained a demand, amounting to an ultimatum, ‘for the immediate withdrawal of your forces 20 to 25 kilometers away from the frontier on the Karelian peninsula.’ Two days later the envoy replied that his government was ‘ready to enter talks on the mutual withdrawal of forces to a certain distance from the frontier’. Finland had taken up the challenge and, being equally unyielding, announced mobilization. On Nov. 28, 1939 the USSR renounced the 1932 Soviet-Finnish treaty of non-aggression. Neither Moscow nor Helsinki had exhausted all means to avoid war, to put it mildly.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 363
In 1938, the Soviet fear was that in the event of war between Germany and the Soviet Union, the islands [Aalands] could be used as a base for the protection of ships carrying vital German supplies of iron ore from Sweden. For Finland, the Aalands were important for the protection of her western shore. Now, Stalin was prepared to allow Finland to fortify the islands, on two conditions. One was that the Soviets should participate in the building and send observers to supervise the work. The other was that the Finns should allow them to build a fortified air and naval base on Suursaari, one of the Finnish islands which commanded the approach to Leningrad and the Soviet Baltic Fleet’s base at Kronstadt. The protection of both had become a matter of urgency for Stalin, and he was now, for the first time, prepared to do deals in order to acquire strategic bases for this purpose.
Once again, however, mutual distrust caused the talks to end in deadlock. Yartsev suggested that they should be continued under cover of the official trade negotiations which were then taking place in Moscow. The Finns refused. But Stalin did not give up. In March 1939 he sent a new emissary to Helsinki: Boris Stein, then Soviet ambassador in Rome. Stein had served for some years in Helsinki and was known personally to many members of the Finnish government. No doubt Stalin hoped someone more senior than Yartsev might carry greater weight.
Stein brought fresh proposals. The Soviet Union agreed that a fortified base on Suursaari might compromise the neutrality which the Finns had gone to such great links to establish. Therefore, the Soviets had another, less contentious offer: would Finland agree to lease to the USSR the string of islands including Suursaari? Or, if this proved unacceptable, would Finland be prepared to exchange the islands for an area of Soviet territory on the mainland? The islands measured 183 square kilometers. Stalin was willing to give a larger area in exchange, and to undertake not to fortify the islands.
In spite of advice from Marshal Mannerheim that they should negotiate seriously with the Soviets, and that it would be a mistake to send them away empty handed yet again, the Finnish government said no.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 379
The preliminary skirmishing of was now over. Molotov stepped back and Stalin took charge, running the conference himself from then on. He was consistently brief and to the point. Sometimes, when some particularly knotty problem came up, he would, as was his habit, rise from his seat and pace up and down, puffing on his pipe and listening carefully to all the arguments before making up his mind.
He made it clear that with the advent of the European war, the protection of Leningrad had become the immediate Soviet concern. Leningrad must be protected at all costs from any potential attack by land or sea. He therefore proposed moving the present Soviet-Finnish border northwards, up the Karelian Isthmus into Finland, a matter of some 25 miles, to take it well out of artillery range of Leningrad. In addition, in order to protect the city from attack by sea, he proposed that the USSR should take over all the islands in the Gulf of Finland, and lease the port of Hanko on the Finnish mainland for use as a Soviet naval base. He offered a payment of 8 million Finnish marks for a 30 year lease.
In the far north, he pointed out that the approaches to Murmansk, the Soviet Union’s only ice-free ocean port in the western part of the huge country, were also vulnerable. Here, he demanded that Finland should cede to him the Rybachi Peninsula, which commanded the approaches to Murmansk.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 388
In return for the territory to be ceded to the Soviet Union in both the north and south, Stalin offered the Finns over twice as much territory alongside the center of Finland. This would have the beneficial effect to Finland of thickening her dangerously narrow ‘waist ‘, the nightmare of Finnish military strategists since it meant an invader can swiftly divide the country in two.
The meeting ended on that note, and Paasikivi [the Finnish representative] and his team returned to the legation to wire the Soviet demands to their government in Helsinki. The government’s reply was uncompromising: they were not disposed to concede much, if anything at all.
Stalin was not a soldier – he was a bureaucrat. His days of military glory, such as they were, were long past. Yet throughout the conference he was evidently haunted by the ghosts of the Russian Civil War of 20 years before, when British warships had lurked in the Gulf of Finland and the White General Yudenich had tried to take Petrograd, the home of the Revolution. Then Stalin, having already claimed the glory for saving Tsaritsyn, the city which was later to be renamed Stalingrad, took control of the Red forces, as the special representative of the party’s Central Committee, and saved Petrograd, the city which was to become Leningrad.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 389
In June 1919, against the advice of his military experts, he [Stalin] had flung units of the Baltic Fleet, a few aircraft, and 800 troops from Petrograd into an assault on the two forts, Krasnaya Gorka and Seroya Loshad, which guarded the approaches to the city. “The swift capture of Gorka,” he had written in a report at the time which did nothing to play down his part in the proceedings, “came as a result of the rudest intervention by me and other civilians in operational matters, even to the point of countermanding orders on land and sea and imposing our own.” He had added ominously, “I consider it my duty to announce that I shall continue to act in this way in the future.” In 1939, his vision of himself as “Stalin, the Savior of Petrograd” kept intruding into the problems of the present.
“It is not the fault of either of us,” he told the Finns, “that geographical circumstances are as they are. We must be able to bar entrance to the Gulf of Finland. If the channel to Leningrad did not run along your coast, we would not have the slightest occasion to bring the matter up. Your memorandum is one-sided and over-optimistic…. It is a law of naval strategy that passage into the Gulf of Finland can be blocked by the cross-fire of batteries on both shores as far out as the mouth of the Gulf. Your memorandum supposes that an enemy cannot penetrate into the Gulf. But once a hostile fleet is in the Gulf, the Gulf can no longer be defended.
“You ask why we want Koivisto? [A Finnish island off the east coast of the Karelian Isthmus.]…. Regarding Koivisto, you must bear in mind that if 16-inch guns were placed there they could entirely prevent movements of our fleet in the inmost extremity of the Gulf [i.e.: round the port of Kronstadt]. We asked for 2700 square kilometers and offer more than 5500 in exchange. Does any other great power do that? No. We are the only ones who are that simple.”
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 390
At the end of this second day of the conference, Paasikivi informed Stalin that their discussions had now reached the point where he must return to Helsinki in order to obtain fresh instructions from his government. Stalin agreed, but reminded him of the urgency of the matter: the Finnish army was already mobilizing, while the Soviets were reinforcing their own border troops. The situation was therefore explosive.
“This cannot go on for long without the danger of accidents,” he said. Later that evening, the Soviets handed over a written memorandum containing their proposals. Stalin made no threats, delivered no ultimatum. He did not think it necessary to do so. He believed he made the Finns a fair offer, one they could not afford to refuse. But Paasikivi sounded a note of warning.
Paasikivi was not so optimistic. “The Hanko Neck concession and the cession of the area on the Isthmus are exceptionally difficult matters,” he said.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 391
Paasikivi did not care for the implication of this last remark. His country was neutral and wished to remain so. “We want to continue in peace,” he said, “and remain apart from all incidents.”
Stalin’s reply was blunt. “That is impossible,” he said brusquely.
Paasikivi refused to be put down, however. “How do these proposals of yours fit in with your famous slogan, “We do not want a crumb of foreign territory, but neither do we want to cede an inch of our own territory to anyone”? he asked.
“In Poland, we took no foreign territory,” came the reply, meaning that the Red Army had simply re-occupied land that once belonged to the tsars. “And this is a case of exchange.”
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 392
Paasikivi started by saying Finland was now prepared to make some concessions. These included ceding various islands in the Gulf of Finland and moving the Karelian frontier back up the Isthmus some 13 kilometers, eight miles, though not the 25 miles demanded by Stalin. However, he made it clear that on Hanko the Finns had not changed their position.
Stalin was not impressed, and insisted the new concessions were not enough. The original demands, he said, had been the bare minimum required for Soviet security, and could not be bargained away. He thought the present European war could easily escalate into a world war which might last for many years. In that event, the USSR must be able to defend Leningrad from attack via the Gulf.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 393
Paasikivi’s tough stand paid off. At about 9 p.m., barely an hour after the Finns had walked out, Molotov’s secretary telephoned them to ask if they would come back to the Kremlin for further talks that night. The resumed meeting started at 11 p.m.
Again, Stalin and Molotov faced the Finns alone. Molotov had drafted a memorandum after the earlier session, in which the Soviets made certain modifications to their position. Instead of demanding the right to put a Soviet garrison of 5000 men into Hanko, they were prepared to reduce the number to 4000, and guarantee to remove them on “the termination of the British-French-German war”. In addition they were prepared to compromise on the Karelian frontier issue.
Neither Paasikivi nor Tanner thought these concessions were in themselves enough to change the mind of the government, but they agreed to report them to Helsinki nevertheless.
Early next morning, Paasikivi went to Tanner’s room in the legation, after a sleepless night spent trying to find a way through the impasse. He had come to the conclusion, he told Tanner that for the past 20 years the Finns had been living in a fool’s paradise. They had chosen neutrality, but the truth was that neutrality was a luxury they could not afford with the Soviet Union as a next-door neighbor. Since they could not change the geography, they would have to change their policies.
If they refused the Soviet demands, he continued, this would lead to war – a war which Finland would inevitably lose. He proposed, therefore, to advise the Finnish government to accept Moscow’s terms….
Paasikivi and Tanner arrived back in Helsinki on Oct. 26 to find the Council had still failed to grasp the realities of the situation. The ministers seemed to be living in an Alice in Wonderland world, making statements which were totally at variance with the coldly pessimistic assessments of their own military advisers. Marshal Mannerheim himself bluntly forecast national disaster in the event of war with the Soviet Union. But the politicians refused to heed such warnings. Defense Minister Nuikkanen pooh-poohed his own generals. “The military command is always too pessimistic,” he told Paasikivi airily.
To compound their stupidity, the members of the Council of State also conspired to keep the Finnish people in ignorance of the true state of affairs. Erkko [Finnish Foreign Minister] even continued to preserve the fiction that in the last resort they could rely on Sweden to come to their aid. Bolstered by this false confidence, he drafted yet another set of proposals for Paasikivi to take back to Moscow. These offered a little more territory in Karelia – taking the border to 37 miles from Leningrad – and some in the far north, but not enough to come close to satisfying even the latest, scaled-down Soviet demands.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 394
On the Soviet side it is clear that Stalin, no doubt advised by Otto Kuusinen, his Finnish confidant, still believed the Finns would see sense in the end. Perhaps Kuusinen overestimated the political flexibility of his countrymen. In any event, the last thing Stalin wanted at this time was a war on his northern frontier. He and his advisers had analyzed the Finnish position with great care, concluding that it was hopeless. They presumed the Finns must have come to the same conclusion – what other conclusion was there to be reached? Surely, their argument went, no country would contemplate its own destruction when, by coming to an agreement, it would actually gain rather than lose territory? As always with Stalin, political logic dictated his own actions, and, as always, he presumed it dictated the actions of others.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 395
Molotov told Schulenburg in Moscow that he was extremely angry with the Finns, saying their stubbornness in refusing such modest Soviet demands could be explained as only “resistance bolstered by England.” The Soviet Union, he said, had even offered to pay all the expenses involved in moving the Finnish population from areas ceded to her, including the cost of building new homes for them. It could not understand their refusal of such generosity.
The failure of the negotiations to achieve the peaceful transfer of territory which he desired had far-reaching effects, even on Stalin himself. He came under considerable pressure from a strong body of opinion within the Politburo, led by Zhdanov. Lined up with Zhdanov were Adm. Kuznetsov, General Meretskov, commander of the Leningrad Military District, and Adm. Tributz, the new commander of the Baltic Fleet. No doubt Molotov, whose earliest political positions of any note had been in the Petrograd (as it then was) party, and who had been chairman of the economic council for the northern region, which included Karelia, was among those who had become convinced Stalin was being too soft with the Finns. These hard-liners thought the time for polite negotiation was over – in their view, even Stalin’s initial demands had been quite inadequate in military terms. They made no bones about the fact that they wanted a return to Peter the Great’s frontier with Finland, which had included the whole of the Karelian Isthmus and the city of Vipuri.
In Zhdanov’s eyes, the security of Leningrad was the single most important foreign policy issue facing the USSR. If Leningrad were not made secure from any external threat, the country could be sucked into the so-called “Second Imperialist War” because of the need to defend the city.
Stalin was a cautious man, but in the end he was won over by Zhdanov’s argument – and possibly by the fear of the consequence of his not backing the judgment of his own military men.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 400
The Finnish government instigated the incident, and did not deny that seven shells had struck the village of Mainila…. With a certain bravura, the Finns suggested that in order to avoid any further incidents, both sides should withdraw their forces the same distance from the frontier.
The Soviets were not amused by the Finnish reply. Molotov delivered another blast on Tuesday, Nov. 28, 1939. The relative positions of the two forces, he argued, were not comparable. “The Soviet forces do not threaten any vital Finnish center, since they are hundreds of kilometers from any of these, whereas the Finnish forces, 32 kilometers away from the USSR’s vital center, Leningrad, which has a population of 3,500,000 creates for the latter a direct menace. It is hardly necessary to state that there is actually no place for the Soviet troops to withdrawal to, since withdrawal to a distance of 25 kilometers would place them in the suburbs of Leningrad, which clearly would be absurd from the point of view of the security of Leningrad.
The Soviet Union regarded the concentration of troops near the frontier, and the incident of the seven artillery shots, as hostile acts. This was, Molotov declared, “incompatible” with the 1934 non-aggression pact between the two countries. “Consequently, the Soviet government considers itself obliged to declare that it considers itself as of today as being relieved of its obligations under the non-aggression pact…which is being systematically violated by the government of Finland.”
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 404
Only that afternoon [December 1st] a “People’s government of Finland”, under the presidency of Kuusinen, had been established in Terijoki, which the Red Army had managed to “liberate.” The Soviet Union instantly recognized this government as representing the “Democratic Republic of Finland,” and announced the formation of a “1st Finnish Corps” made up of volunteers, which would form the nucleus of the future people’s army.
Next day, Molotov signed a pact of mutual assistance with Kuusinen. Stalin, Voroshilov, and Zhdanov, Moscow Radio announced, were all present at the “negotiations.” It was no surprise to anyone that the new pact gave the Soviets everything they had demanded in the talks with Paasikivi, including the whole of the Karelian Isthmus, Hanko and the islands in the Gulf. What was surprising was that in return the Soviet Union gave the Finnish Democratic Republic no less than 70,000 square kilometers of central Karelia – over 20 times the amount of territory being ceded by the Finns – plus 120 million Finnish marks as compensation for the railways in the Isthmus and 3 million marks for the islands and the Rybachi peninsula in the far north.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 405
The proposal that Stalin put to the Finns on Oct. 12 was to move the existing Soviet-Finnish border on the Karelian isthmus 25 miles farther away from Leningrad; and, for better protection of the city from attack by sea, for the Soviet Union to take over all the islands in the Gulf of Finland and lease the port of Hankow for use as a naval base. In the north, he asked for the cession of the Rybachi Peninsula, which commanded the approaches to Murmansk, the Soviet Union’s only ice-free port on its western side. In return the Russians offered twice as much territory adjoining the center of Finland, where the narrow “waist” between the Russian frontier and the Gulf of Bothnia exposed the Finns to the danger of an invader cutting the country in two.
In the negotiations, which continued until November 8, Stalin showed himself willing to moderate his demands but not to withdraw them. Both Marshall Mannerheim, the hero of the earlier Finnish-Soviet war, and Paasikivi were in favor of coming to terms with the Russians, but the Finnish government, fully supported by public opinion, refused;…
Stalin was surprised at the Finnish intransigence; he appears to have hesitated before accepting the view of the hard-liners led by Zhdanov, the party boss of Leningrad, that they should not waste any more time but take what they needed by force. He finally agreed, subject to the proviso that only troops from the Leningrad Military District were to be involved.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 660
It so happened that I was gone, during that week, on a visit to Finland. I found the Finns pleasant and friendly. I was received in audience by President Paasikivi, that great Finnish realist, who, though originally a highly conservative businessman, considered it in Finland’s interests never to quarrel with the Russians. He said he had done his utmost, in November 1939, to meet the Russians at least half-way, since he regarded their demand for a frontier or rectification north-west of Leningrad “understandable and reasonable” in the tense atmosphere of the Second World War, which had already begun. He was prepared at the time to make concessions to the Russians, but he was overruled by the Finnish government.
… I met the future president of Finland, Mr. Kekkonen. Kekkonen’s line was very similar to Paasikivi: Finland had to be realistic; the Finnish government of 1939 was wrong to have dug in its heels; but although the Russian armistice terms– particularly the $300 million in reparations–were pretty tough, Finland was lucky not to be occupied by Russian troops and the most important thing for her was to maintain good-neighborly relations with Russia and to remain strictly neutral. The Finns, he said, were happy to have remained masters in their own house. Needless to say, a good deal was said about the Fulton speech; nobody present was happy about it. On the contrary, as Kekkonen said, it was going to poison the international atmosphere. This kind of thing, he remarked, would do nobody any good, and Finland was frankly worried about it, for it might provoke the Russians who until then had been “pretty reasonable” in their relations with the Finns.
Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co. 1971, p. 110-111
He [Stalin] expressed strong resentment over the Iron Curtain speech made at Fulton, Missouri, by former Prime Minister Winston Churchill. This speech, Stalin said, was an unfriendly act; it was an unwarranted attack upon the USSR. Such a speech, if directed against the United States, never would have been permitted in Russia.
Smith, Walter Bedell. My Three Years in Moscow. Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1950, p. 52
Would the czarist government have dealt so reasonably with Finland, asked Stalin? ‘There is no doubt on this’, he replied. Would any other great power offer 5500 km2 in exchange for 2700 (for the Soviets were willing to compensate the Finns in the north for the territory that the Finns were asked to cede in the south)? ‘No. We are the only one that is so stupid.’
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 223
Early in 1939 Stalin, with security in mind, asked the Finns to meet him for discussions about frontier adjustments, offering to exchange territory. In addition, he wanted the lease of a port on the Gulf of Finland, and asked the Finns to give up other strategic parcels of territory, totalling 1066 square miles in return for nearly twice as much–but less valuable–Russian territory in the far north. No agreement was reached. After the signing of the German-Soviet non-aggression pact and Hitler’s invasion of Poland, Stalin again sought territorial adjustments with Finland….
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 56
STALIN EXTRACTED THE MINIMUM FROM FINLAND
Hostilities between Finland and the Soviet Union ended on March 13, 1940. According to the peace terms, Finland gave to Russia to Karelian Isthmus, the Western and Northern Shores of Lake Ladoga, a number of strategic islands in the Gulf of Finland essential to the defense of Leningrad, the Soviet government restored to Finland the port of Petsamo, which had been occupied by the Red Army, and took a 30 year lease on the Hango Peninsula for an annual rental of 8 million Finnish marks.
Addressing the supreme Soviet of the USSR on March 29 Molotov declared: the Soviet Union having smashed the Finnish Army and having every opportunity of occupying the whole of Finland, did not do so and did not demand any indemnities for its expenditures in the war as any other power would have done, but confined its desires to a minimum…. We pursued no other objects in the peace treaty than that of safeguarding the security of Leningrad, Murmansk, and the Murmansk railroad….”
Sayers and Kahn. The Great Conspiracy. Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1946, p. 334
In the end Stalin seems to have realized the farcical nature of the whole proceeding. Although the Russian troops were victorious and all Finland could have been conquered, he concluded a moderate peace. The shadowy Finnish Soviet government disappeared from the scene. Stalin contented himself with little more than the territorial demands originally put forward. He was also realistic enough to see that, unlike the Baltic States, Finland offered not the slightest basis for the setting up of a Soviet regime established by the use of foreign bayonets. This recognition saved Finland after her second defeat in war.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 347
When Stalin actually gained his point after a hard-fought campaign, the policy he followed forces the observer to think that he never had any real intention of instituting a Finnish Soviet State. He certainly dropped the Kuusinen government the moment his demands were granted, though the military situation would have permitted him to overrun the entire country without further resistance.
In spite of the difficulties encountered, the Russian terms were surprisingly light. The Soviet assumed control of the Karelian Isthmus, possession of which assisted in the defense of Leningrad, together with certain vital coastal areas on the Arctic seaboard and several small islands in the Gulf of Finland. The whole area comprised only 3970 square kilometers, but it contained the whole of the Mannerheim Line and many of Finland’s most important defensive centers. As compensation for this annexation, the Soviet ceded over 70,000 square kilometers of territory situated in a less vital spot.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 116
In the peace terms, the Soviets took the Mannerheim Line and the naval base at Hangoe, protecting both land and sea approaches to Leningrad. But they returned Petsamo and its nickel mines; they asked no indemnities but agreed to supply a starving Finland with food. As terms go, these were not excessive. Sir Stafford Cripps, British ambassador to Moscow in 1940, told me, as I sat at tea in his embassy, that the Russians might someday be sorry they had not taken more when they could. He was thinking of Petsamo, which was soon to be a Nazi base against Allied shipping on the Murmansk run. But Sir Stafford was wrong; Stalin’s political sense was better than Sir Stafford’s. The Soviets were well advised to make easy terms. Had their demands gone beyond the obvious needs of Leningrad’s security, Sweden’s neutrality might have been shaken.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 86
It would be to claim that Stalin started the war intending to seize Finland. You might ask, why didn’t we seize Finland during World War II, when the Finnish army was virtually wiped out? Stalin showed statesmanly wisdom here. He knew that the territory of Finland wasn’t relevant to the basic needs of the world proletarian Revolution. Therefore when we signed a treaty with the Finns during World War II, just ending the war itself was more profitable for us than an occupation would have been. Finland’s cessation of hostilities set a good example for other satellites of Hitlerite Germany, and it also made good marks for us with the Finnish people.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 156
The Finns were overwhelmed by weight of numbers and by constant bombardment. They sued for peace on March 8, and four days later the treaty was signed in Moscow. The territories needed to secure the Baltic approaches to Russia’s frontiers had been won. Stalin did not consider occupying Helsinki or encroaching on other parts of Finland. The callousness and contempt that the Russians showed towards the Poles did not extend to the Finns, whom they respected.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 313
…Stalin recognized there were limits beyond which it would be dangerous to push one’s luck. The most striking example of this is his retreat over Berlin in 1949; but there are two other examples in 1944 that are more surprising because they affected areas closer, in one case very much closer, to Russia’s borders.
The first was Finland. When the Finns sought peace, the terms they were granted in September made permanent the loss of territory they had suffered in 1940, imposed a substantial indemnity, and required them to lease the naval base at Porkkala to Russia for 50 years. But remembering the international reaction to Russia’s earlier attack on them, Stalin allowed Finland to retain a greater degree of independence than any other East European country and acquiesced in the exclusion of the Finnish Communist party from a share in power.
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 856
So the Kuusinen government was told to disband, and on March 12, 1940, the USSR concluded a lenient peace (considering everything) with Finland.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 522
The Government of Finland declined, one after another, all the friendly proposals made by the Soviet Government with the object of safeguarding the security of the USSR, particularly of Leningrad, and this in spite of the fact that the Soviet Union was willing to go out to meet Finland and satisfy her legitimate interests.
The Finnish Government declined the proposal of the USSR to shift back the Finnish border on the Karelian Isthmus a few dozen kilometers, although the Soviet Government was willing to compensate Finland with an area twice as large in Soviet Karelia.
The Finnish Government also declined the proposal of the USSR to conclude a pact of mutual assistance, thereby making it clear that the security of the USSR from the direction of Finland was not safeguarded.
In his speech at the session of the Supreme Soviet of the USSR on March 29, 1940, Molotov said:
“…The Soviet Union having smashed the Finnish army, and having had every opportunity of occupying the whole of Finland, did not do so and did not demand any indemnities for its war expenditure as any other Power would have done, but confined its demands to a minimum….
We pursued no other object in the Peace Treaty than that of safeguarding the security of Leningrad, Murmansk, and the Murmansk Railway.”
Foreign Lang. Pub. House. Schuman, F. L. Intro. Falsifiers of History. Moscow, 1948, p. 44
Liddell Hart says that after a negotiated peace was signed in March 1940, Stalin ‘showed statesmanship’ by offering the Finns ‘remarkably moderate terms’.
George Bernard Shaw, In a comment on the Winter War, said that the ‘only novelty’ about it was that Stalin took only what he needed instead of taking back the whole country as any other Power would have done. (This was an allusion to the fact that before the Russian Revolution, Finland had been a part of the Czarist Empire.)
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 57
On 21 January 1940 Stalin said, “We have no desire for Finland’s territory but Finland should be a state that is friendly to the Soviet Union.
Dimitrov, Georgi, The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933-1949. Ed. Ivo Banac. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 124
SU-NAZI TREATY INVOLVED ECONOMIC EXCHANGES AND TRADE
The nazi-Soviet pact had also a strong economic aspect. By this and later agreements, the USSR agreed to deliver great quantities of oil, grain, cotton, manganese, and other raw materials; but this was no mere tribute or sacrifice imposed by force. The Soviet received in exchange, through a clearing system, German machines and spare parts, machine tools, instruments of precision, chemicals and drugs. Soviet industry had run down badly during the purge, and most of its machines and tools needed replacement or repair. It was already beginning to produce such things for itself, but of all machinery imported in the last ten years, more than 60 percent was of German origin.
Thus Germany received much-needed raw materials, but the USSR benefited even more by the change,…
Duranty, Walter. The Kremlin and the People. New York: Reynal & Hitchcock, 1941, p. 169
Recently, much has been written about Soviet shipments to Germany, and Stalin has been rightly blamed for supplying Hitler with grain, oil, and rare metals and for helping the Nazis accumulate strategic reserves that they subsequently used in the war against the Soviet Union. But at the same time, it should be pointed out that in return we also obtained much that we needed in the way of equipment and modern military hardware. Only on those terms did the Soviet government agree to supply to Germany the resources it was requesting. Among our acquisitions from the Germans was the Lutzov, a state-of-the-art cruiser of the same class as the cruiser Prinz Eugen. Both ships were built by Germany for its own fleet. The Germans also gave us the shop drawings for their newest battleship, the Bismarck, for thirty different combat aircraft, including Messerschmitt 109 and 110 fighters and Yunker 88 dive bombers, samples of field-artillery pieces, modern fire-support systems, tanks together with the formulas for their armor, and a variety of explosive devices. In addition, Germany undertook to supply us with locomotives, turbines, diesel motors, merchant ships, metal-cutting machine tools, presses, press-forging and other equipment for heavy industry, including the oil and electric industries.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 75
I saw clearly now why Soviet materials continued to be shipped into Germany on a regular basis even though the Germans didn’t comply with their delivery schedules. The idea was to gain time, to appease Hitler, and at the same time to demonstrate to him that it made no sense for Germany to go to war with the Soviet Union since this would effectively cut it off from a rich source of supplies.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 102
The Soviet-German trade agreement, concluded a few days before the signing of the nonaggression pact, provided for deliveries of modern equipment and the latest technology to the Soviet Union. Among others, our navy was very much interested in getting new equipment and technology.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 269
By early evening [in August 1939], the complete text of the trade treaty had been agreed. It was a complex document, allowing the Soviet Union to buy capital goods such as machinery and machine tools, construction and scientific equipment, chemical plants, ships and vehicles, to the value of 200 million Reichmarks over a two-year period. In order to pay for them, the Soviet Union would export to Germany equivalent values of raw materials, semi-finished products, oil, grain, timber, ores, phosphates and so on.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 208
Stalin, for his part, was as conscious of the military deficiencies revealed by the Winter War as any German general. It was clear that something had to be done. The question was what?
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 422
The assistance the Soviet Union was able to give Germany in Murmansk and in the transit of goods from other countries was welcome and undoubtedly of great value. But the most important area of whole operation for both sides during the period of the pact was the direct trade between them. There has long been a myth that in order to buy time and postpone the threat of invasion by the mechanized might of the Wehrmacht, Stalin was Hitler’s dupe, prepared to pay any price he demanded. The reality was entirely different.
Stalin could have had no illusions about Hitler’s ultimate ambitions. Neither did he have any illusions, even before the debacle of the Red Army’s performance in Finland, about the Soviet Union’s ability to withstand a German attack. But before he could prepare his country, and perhaps even increase its military strength to such an extent that Hitler would be deterred from attacking, Stalin needed to buy not only time but also technology. The only people he could obtain either from were the Germans.
For his part, Hitler needed vital raw materialsfor his arms industry in order to build up his forces to the level necessary for attacking the Soviet Union, and food to sustain his people while the military machine was made ready. Once he had failed to keep Britain, and to a lesser extent France, out of the war, the only place he could obtain either of his needs was the Soviet Union.
By September 1939, therefore, the two leaders found themselves in the ludicrous situation where Hitler needed food and raw materials from the Soviet Union in order to attack her, while Stalin needed machinery, arms, and equipment from Germany in order to be able to fight her off. The question was, who needed what most? Certainly, Stalin was perfectly well aware of Hitler’s needs. And while Germany still faced the allies in the west, he was able to drive a very hard bargain indeed.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 433
Three days later, however, on Feb. 7, 1940, there was a message from Stalin, asking the German negotiators to call on him at the Kremlin at 1 a.m. the next morning. When they arrived, they found him smiling and friendly, all sweetness and light. Ribbentrop’s letter, he said, had changed everything. The Germans could have their treaty. The Soviet Union would deliver commodities worth 420 to 430 million Reichmarks within 12 months, in addition to the 200 million Reichmarks worth agreed in the August 19 treaty. For the following six months, the Soviets would make deliveries worth 200 to 230 million Reichmarks. Germany would make deliveries to the same value over a period of 15 months for the first part, and 12 months for the second.
Stalin, still playing his role of the reasonable man, politely asked the Germans not to ask too high prices as they had done before – 300 million Reichmarks for aircraft and 150 million Reichmarks for the cruiser Lutzow, he quoted as examples, was really far too much. “One should not take advantage,” he said gently, “of the Soviet Union’s good nature.”
When Stalin had finished, Mikoyan, playing a friendly role after all the hard-man tactics of the preceding four months, raised another matter which the Germans had been vainly pursuing for months. This was to station a mother ship in Murmansk for the fishing fleet, to process its catches. Without a moment’s hesitation, Stalin agreed to it.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 441
On February 11, the new trade treaty was signed. Germany was assured of all the raw materials and grain she wanted – but the price exacted by Stalin was a heavy one. The list of war material to be given to him covered 42 closely typed pages. At the top of the list was the cruiser formerly known as the Lutzow [after the Graf Spee incident Hitler had given the name Lutzow to the Deutschland, since it would have been unbearable for a ship with that name to be sunk), the hull of which was to be delivered to Leningrad after launching, for completion in the Soviet Union. The complete drawings for the Bismarck were to be handed over after all, together with plans for a large destroyer and complete machinery for such a ship, and full details of performance of the other two cruisers.
The aircraft list included 10 Heinkel He-100s, 5 Messerschmitt Bf-110s, 2 Junkers Ju-88 twin-engined dive-bombers, 2 Dornier Do-215s; 3 Buker Bu-131s and 3 Bu-133s; 3 Fokke-Wulf Fw-58-v-13s and 2 Fokke-Wulf Fa-255 helicopters, plus the experimental Messerschmitt 209. All of these were regarded as test aircraft, which the Soviets could then buy in quantity or build under license later – they vigorously denied that they intended to copy them.
On and on went the list of equipment, guns, machinery, instruments, other ships and shipbuilding gear, plus installations and plants for chemical and metallurgical processes, many of them highly secret.
In return, the Soviet Union agreed to provide an impressive list of materials including:
1,000,000 tons of feed grains and legumes
900,000 tons of petroleum
100,000 tons of cotton
500,000 tons of phosphates
100,000 tons of chromium ores
500,000 tons of iron ore
300,000 tons of scrap iron and pig iron
2400 kilograms of platinum
Manganese ore, metals, lumber, and numerous other raw materials.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 442
Behind the facade, however, Stalin was thinking very hard about the situation. On the economic front, he was prepared to continue the friendship – whatever it cost he had to have German tools and technology. He ordered Mikoyan to take the breaks off the negotiations he was holding with Schnurre [a German trade Representative]….
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 536
SU SELLS GOODS BELOW WORLD PRICES
But nothing short of a world embargo will prevent Soviet Russia from selling her goods–at a lower price than any capitalist country can meet–in order to buy the equipment she requires.
Duranty, Walter. Duranty Reports Russia. New York: The Viking Press, 1934, p. 194
POLISH CLAIMS TO EASTERN REGIONS ARE NOT VALID
It has been contended that the territorial gain assured to the Soviet Union in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact represented the commencement of Russian neo-imperialism. That is not so, at least in regard to the Polish territories. There were four Polish regions which the Soviet Union claimed: Eastern Galicia (formerly Austrian), Volhynia, Polish White Russia, and the Vilna region. Volhynia had a purely Ukrainian population; it had been torn way from Soviet Russia by the Treaty of Riga, without the population being consulted, after the Polish-Russian war of 1921. Eastern Galicia was also mainly Ukrainian. Its capital, Lemberg, had the appearance of a Polish city, but only because a large proportion of the Jewish intelligentsia of Lemberg had been culturally Polonized in the preceding half-century. Eastern Galicia, which in Russia was called Red Russia, was an old Russian demand; it had been one of the Russian objectives in the First World War. Its Ukrainian population had offered armed resistance to Polish rule in 1918 and 1919; the West Ukrainian Republic had been proclaimed there, and had been given international recognition. In the end the Poles subjugated Galicia by armed force. The Ambassadors Conference in Paris, which then had to decide the future of the region, permitted Poland to retain it, but stipulated that it should be granted autonomy under a Ukrainian governor-general, a condition which Poland never fulfilled. Again and again the Ukrainians attempted risings, which ended in a sanguinary Polish pacification of the region.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 336
One final point: circles hostile to the Soviet Union have always equated the Soviet march into Poland east of the Curzon Line with the Nazi invasion and occupation of the rest of Poland. The two are qualitatively different. First, the Soviet forces moved only into territory which was theirs before it had been snatched by Poland after the October revolution. Second, and much more importantly, the Soviet Union waited for 16 days after the Nazi invasion of Poland.
“When, on September 5th , Ribbentrop began to press the Russians to march into their share of Poland, Stalin was not yet ready to issue the marching orders… He would not…lend a hand in defeating Poland, and he refused to budge before Poland’s collapse was complete beyond doubt.” (Deutscher, op. cit. page 432).
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 571
STALIN SOUGHT SENSIBLE, ETHNICALLY BASED WESTERN BORDERS
Undoubtedly the population of Eastern Galicia had no desire to be under Polish rule; what is not known is whether it was ready to join Soviet Ukraine. Nevertheless when Stalin marched into Eastern Galicia, claiming that he must protect from the Germans, on national grounds, a population that was identical with that living in the Soviet Union, these were not empty words. As a matter of prudence he had halted along the Curzon Line, the line drawn by the Western Powers in 1919, almost exactly following the ethnographic dividing line between Poles and Ukrainians;….
Polish White Russia was also taken from the Russians in the Polish-Russian war in 1920. There is no doubt about the feeling of the population, who are Orthodox White Russians. These peasants always wanted to belong to Soviet White Russia.
The Vilna region was inhabited by Lithuanians and the White Russians. Only the city of Vilna was regarded as Polish. That city had actually a Jewish majority, but was even closer to Polish hearts than Lemberg. The Vilna region had also been annexed by armed force by the Poles. In its peace treaty with Lithuania in 1920 the Soviet state had recognized the Vilna region as belonging to Lithuania and the city of Vilna as the Lithuanian capital. The result was that from 1922 right up to the outbreak of the Second World War there had never been a reconciliation and resumption of normal diplomatic relations between Lithuania and Poland. Throughout the period the Soviet Union had steadily refused to recognize the region as Polish and had always recognized the Lithuanian claim to it. Now, when the Polish State seemed to have come to an end, it was only natural that Moscow should not abandon the Vilna region to the Germans. It turned it over to the then formally independent Lithuania, in conformity with the treaty of 1920. Barely a year later, however, Lithuania became a Soviet State and a part of the Soviet Union.
This policy of Stalin’s is quite intelligible. In his distrust of Hitler he had obviously, for reasons of military security, to push forward his frontier as far as possible. He chose the ethnographic frontier, the frontier that in 1919, in fact, had been internationally assigned to Russia. In his view, moreover, he had finally solved the Ukrainian and White Russian question by uniting those two peoples in a single State.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 337-338
And 1939-1940 hardly anyone was concerned about abiding by international legal standards. The Soviet Union hastened to take advantage of the situation in Western Europe to establish more favorable borders and better strategic positions before it’s inevitable entry, sooner or later, into the world war.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 732
On Sept. 17, 1939 prime minister Molotov spoke on the radio:
“No one knows the present whereabouts of the Polish government. The Polish population has been abandoned to its fate by its unfortunate leaders…. The Soviet government regards it as its duty to proffer help to its Ukrainian and Byelorussian brothers in Poland…. The Soviet government has instructed the Red Army command to order its troops to cross the border and to take under its protection the life and property of the population of the western Ukraine and western Byelorussia.”
Stalin had a note of similar content delivered to the Polish ambassador in Moscow. With hindsight and from the Soviet point of view, this step was largely justified: the territory entered by Soviet troops was indeed inhabited by Ukrainians and Byelorussians.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 358
STALIN’S TREATMENT OF THE BALTIC STATES WAS FAIR AND SENSIBLE
Stalin’s treatment of the Baltic states is also intelligible. As already said, no Russian Government will ever voluntarily renounce the Baltic provinces. The majority of the Russian revolutionaries, including the Bolsheviks, had always recognized the right of the Poles and Finns to secede from Russia. No one dreamed of according a somewhere right to the three Baltic peoples. Until 1917 the Latvians and Estonians had had no idea of demanding it. Until then not one of the revolutionary parties among those peoples had put forward any such claim. They had all fought side-by-side with the Russian revolutionaries, contenting themselves with the promise that in the hour of victory the Russian revolution would secure equal rights for all the peoples within the Russian Federation. As for Latvia, national feeling awakened there very late and first showed itself in the war of 1914-18.
In regard to the Baltic states, Stalin acted entirely in accordance with the views of Lenin. It was his opinion, as it had been Lenin’s, that the independence acquired by the Baltic states in 1918 was not the outcome of any popular demand. The capitalists and the big farmers, they considered, had started the demand for independence, with the support first of the Germans and then of the British, simply in order to avert social revolution. Certain facts seemed to confirm that view. The new Estonian Government met with considerable difficulties in the raising of an army. Only after a number of Estonian peasants had been hanged at Dorpat for refusing military service did the organization begin to make progress. In 1919, however, there were further plain indications that the Estonian peasants were fighting only unwillingly against Bolshevism. With the aid of anti-Bolshevik Russian troops, the Reds had been expelled from Estonia. The White Guard General Yudenich began his offensive against Petrograd with the aid of the Estonian Army. It was barely an hour’s journey by rail from the Estonian frontier to the former capital of the Russian empire. At the frontier the Estonian regiments mutinied, and had to be sent home.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 339
I have been told by people in Russia, who ought to know what they are talking about, that the Soviet police have been deliberately clearing out almost all the border regions between Europe and Soviet Russia, moving whole towns and villages from these regions out into Siberia or some other pioneer section where they begin life over again. The Russians are thus creating a vast no man’s land along the European borders, which can be heavily fortified, strung with electrified wires and barbed wires and made as nearly impassable as modern science will permit.
The government thus seeks to insure itself against an invasion from the west. But at the same time it also reassures European nations, especially the little border nations, who had more reason to fear Russia than Russia had to fear them. Noting that the borders are being sealed tight, the neighboring governments are pleased, being desirous only of being left alone so far as Russia is concerned.
But out in Asia the Russians are establishing no such quarantine along the borders.
Littlepage, John D. In Search of Soviet Gold. New York: Harcourt, Brace, c1938, p. 282-283
In late September-early October 1939, Stalin ordered Molotov to propose to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia that they sign a treaty of mutual assistance. After brief hesitation, some internal struggle and consultation with Berlin, the Baltic governments signed treaties permitting the entry of Red Army units. At the request of the Baltic governments, the number of Soviet troops was less than the armies of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. The Soviet military contingents were to remain in their quarters and not interfere in the internal life of these countries, although Stalin was perfectly aware that the presence of the Red Army was bound to affect the political climate.
Despite some inevitable friction, the sides on the whole followed the spirit and the letter of the treaties. Sometimes the Baltic partners went further. For instance, when the Soviet-Finnish war broke out, the military attache in Riga, Col. Vasiliev, reported to Moscow: ‘On December 1 General Hartmanis declared: “If because of the circumstances of the war you need any landing strips for your air force, you can use all our existing airdromes, including Riga airport”.’ The Lithuanian government informed Moscow that ‘a committee has been formed for securing food products and forage for the armed forces [of the Red Army] in Lithuania.’ During the visit to Moscow in early December 1939 of the commander-in-chief of the Estonian army, General Laidoner–a former lieutenant colonel on the tsarist General Staff–an impression was gained that friendly relations were developing between both states and their armies.
When Hitler took Paris in June 1940, Stalin felt that if he did not at once invade England he was bound to turn his gaze to the east, and Stalin, aware of being unprepared and making sporadic efforts to make up for lost time, now took a new step. In the middle of June 1940, Moscow requested permission from the governments of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to deploy additional contingents of troops on their territory.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 362
While the moral aspect of the annexation of the Baltic states was distinctly negative, the act itself was a positive one, given the threats looming over both the USSR and the Baltic states…. Dekanozov nevertheless reported to Stalin and Molotov in early July 1940:
“A large meeting and demonstration took place in Vilna on July 7. Some 80,000 people took part. The main slogans were ‘Long live the 13th Soviet republic!’. ‘Proletarians of all lands, unite!’. ‘Long live comrade Stalin!’ And so on. The meeting passed a vote of greeting to the Soviet Union and the Red Army. A concert was given by the band of the Lithuanian Army, attended by the president and several members of the government and general staff….”
It is reasonable to suggest that, had Soviet troops not been there, the Germans would have marched into the Baltic states before June 1941, since they already had a plan to ‘Germanize’ part of the population and liquidate the rest, as a 1940 memorandum by Rosenberg shows. The overwhelming majority of the Baltic population was favorable to their countries’ incorporation into the Soviet Union in August 1940….
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 363
To save appearances, he falsified the popular will and staged plebiscites, in which Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians begged to be absorbed into the Soviet Union. His conduct was not more reprehensible than that of any other leader of a great power holding fast to or seizing strategic bases.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 447
While the acquisition of Bessarabia was proceeding, albeit cautiously, Stalin could afford to act more decisively in the Baltic. In fact, he could scarcely afford not to. As seen from the Kremlin, the Baltic states offered Hitler a most convenient springboard for an attack on the Soviet Union. What was worse, ideologically they looked to Berlin rather than to Moscow, in spite of having effectively become client states of the Soviet Union. True, there were now sizable Soviet garrisons in all three countries, but those troops were there to hold down the population during what Stalin had hoped would be the gradual process of Sovietization, rather than to protect the frontier with Germany. The Baltic states were beginning to look like the weak link in his defensive chain.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 465
LATVIANS AND LATVIAN TROOPS SUPPORTED THE BOLSHEVIKS
Still more ambiguous was the situation at that time in Latvia. Latvia had in the past harbored the most radical of Socialist movements. The revolution of 1905 had there been exceptionally sanguinary. After the fall of the Tsardom, Kerensky had permitted the Latvian soldiers in the Russian army, together with the new volunteers, to form regiments of their own under Latvian officers. These Latvian guards soon became specially well disciplined, first-class troops. When the Bolshevik revolution broke out, these were almost the only units that did not disintegrate but remained disciplined. Nor did they obey the order from Latvia to return there; on the contrary, they unanimously declared their support of the Bolsheviks, and remained in Russia. They were fanatical followers of the revolution. In the first two years of the revolution they were almost the only disciplined troops on which the new Soviet government could count. For a long time they formed the principal protection of the Government itself, and they were also the troops of the new terrorist authority, the Cheka. In that terrorist organization the Latvians occupied the principal key positions. Very soon the whole of the senior staff of the organization were Latvians.
The Red Army that marched against Latvia in 1918, captured Riga, and proclaimed the Latvian Soviet Republic, consisted almost exclusively of Latvians. They were not opposed by Latvians but by the hated Germans. Riga was not reconquered by Latvian troops but by German bands of adventurers, whom the Latvian commander, Ullmanis, had recruited, and by the Baltic Militia, the troops of the Baltic barons, so hated by the Latvians. It is significant that these formations wrecked a sanguinary terror against all the Latvians; they regarded all Latvians as Bolsheviks….
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 340
SU RECOGNIZED EARLY-ON THE INDEPENDENCE OF ESTONIA AND LATVIA
When in 1920 and 1921 the Soviet Government concluded treaties of peace with Latvia and Estonia, and recognized the independence of those States, this, in the eyes of the Moscow politicians, was not really a conclusion of peace with those two States themselves, but primarily with the European Western Powers–part of the steps intended to bring to an end the foreign intervention in the Russian revolution and to give the young Soviet State a ‘breathing space’.
In the minds of the Bolsheviks, including Lenin and Stalin, the circumstances of the birth of those States governed their whole existence. They were always regarded as the creations of the anti-Bolshevik Powers, and not of the Latvian and Estonian peoples.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 341
STALIN INVADED THE BALTIC STATES ON VERY VALID GROUNDS
The question for Stalin in August 1939 was quite clear. He distrusted Hitler. The Baltic states neither would nor could resist a German lightning invasion. That would face him with an accomplished fact, but it would be difficult to declare war on that account against the Baltic States; and, of course, he had no desire to do so. If, however, he placed Russian garrisons in the Baltic States, it would be known in Berlin that any invasion would bring immediate fighting with Soviet troops. That would be a deterrent for Berlin.
Stalin went to work very cautiously. The Russian troops sent into the Baltic States were stationed in encampments of their own, far away from any settlement, and nowhere did they come into contact with the population. They were hardly seen. The Soviet State in no way interfered in the affairs of the three Baltic States; it did not even attempt to influence their armies. The regime remained as it was in all three states; and they retained their own diplomatic representation abroad. Even their communists, particularly in Latvia, still remained in prison.
Probably it will never be known how Stalin expected this to end. But he was overtaken by events. He seemed to have judged well; indeed, when war came the Western Powers seemed even weaker than he had assumed. France collapsed, and the British troops returned to their island. Hitler was virtually master of the whole of Europe outside Russia. Stalin had to safeguard his country. It proved that the garrisons in the Baltic states were insufficient. President Ullmanis, in Latvia, began to move. He was in intimate personal touch with Berlin. It seemed to him [Ullmanis] to be possible to bring about a German-Russian conflict. He no longer contented himself with dealing through the Latvian minister in Berlin, but sent men in his confidence as his personal representatives, to persuade the Germans to intervene. Naturally the Russians did not remain unaware of this. A pretext was given them by a small incident with a British warship in Estonian territorial waters. Moscow declared that the Baltic states were much too weak to be able to defend their neutrality. Such a breach of neutrality as had occurred might bring the Soviet Union into the war. On this ground, further Soviet troops marched into the Baltic States, and by a coup d’ etat completed the sovietization of the three States and their incorporation into the Soviet Union.
From Stalin’s point view, this policy was no abandonment of the old principles; indeed, it was the fulfillment of an injunction of Lenin’s. Lenin had not had any hesitation about bringing particular peoples of the Russian Empire back into the Russian Federation by force. An example had been Stalin’s own native country, Georgia…. Thus, in 1917 Georgia proclaimed its independence. It had a social democratic government, and soon established diplomatic relations with a number of European States. It even became a Member State of the League of Nations; but every effort to interest the great powers in its fate came to grief. When Azerbaijan and Armenia were sovietized, Georgia, too, was compelled to conclude peace with Soviet Russia. The peace treaty seemed entirely normal. In it Soviet Russia unreservedly recognized Georgian independence and bound itself not to interfere in internal Georgian affairs. But this treaty had a secret clause, which was published later. Under this clause the Georgian Government bound itself not only to amnesty all the imprisoned Georgian communists but to grant legal existence and freedom of propaganda to the Communists. Scarcely had this clause been given effect when the Communists provoked rioting in one of the public gardens of Tiflis. It was a trifling incident, but Lenin at once declared that the Georgian Government was unable to guarantee law and order in its own territory, thus endangering the neighboring states. Russian troops marched into Georgia, and the country was sovietized. Stalin had entirely concurred. In 1923 there was a new rising in Georgia, on an important scale; it was brutally crushed, with a great deal of bloodshed. Thus it cannot be said that Stalin’s policy toward the Baltic states was an innovation; it was entirely in line with the Leninist policy.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 342
A new and important shift thus occurred in Stalin’s foreign policy. His first move in the Baltic lands, the establishment of bases, had been dictated solely by strategic expediency. He had apparently had no intention of tampering with their social system. His sense of danger, heightened and intensified by the collapse of France, now impelled him to stage revolutions in the three small countries. For the first time he now departed, in a small way, from his own doctrine of socialism in one country, the doctrine that he had so relentlessly inculcated into a whole Russian generation.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 446
Of course, Hitler said, the Soviets were determined to exact a price for their cooperation with the Third Reich. But as far as Hitler could see, their principal aim was merely to extend Soviet access to the Baltic via Latvia and Estonia – a modest enough demand in all conscience.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 192
STALIN’S INVASION OF FINLAND WAS NECESSARY BUT NOT ETHNICALLY JUSTIFIED
The Finnish-Russian frontier came almost up to the suburbs of Leningrad. Stalin now went so far as to demand from Finland, among other things, the cession to Russia of the Karelian Isthmus with the town of Viborg. It was impossible for Finland to submit to that. Finnish Karelia was one of the richest provinces of the country. A large part of the Finnish industries was concentrated there; Viborg was the second city of Finland. The population of the province was entirely Finnish. The Russian demands were inspired not only by strategic considerations but also by nationalist instincts. Lenin had long been criticized on this matter by party leaders; it had been pointed out that the Karelian isthmus had been conquered by Peter the Great and had for 80 years been a Russian province. When in 1809 Alexander the First captured Finland from the Swedes, he negotiated with the Finnish estates about the new Constitution. Finland became an independent State, whose Grand Duke was the Russians Tsar. Alexander I then returned the province of Viborg to the Finns. Now it was declared to be a mistake of Lenin’s when in 1917, in recognizing Finnish independence, he failed to demand the return of that province to Russia.
This demand was, of course, a breach with the Leninist and the whole Bolshevik tradition. The Bolsheviks, like all Marxist, condemns such arguments from so-called ‘historical rights’ as reactionary and a pretext for imperialistic claims. Only the actual ethnographic facts counted for them. Lenin had therefore acted entirely consistently in 1917. In putting forward the new demand, Stalin departed from the line of argument on which he had relied in the past in annexing Polish and Romanian territory; in those cases he had relied on the ethnographic conditions.
The Soviet Union nevertheless declared war on Finland. This was Stalin’s first real breach with all past tradition, in three respects: it was a breach with Lenin’s past policy toward Finland; it was also definitely a preventive war, a sort of war which until then all Bolshevik theorists had condemned; and finally it was impossible, from the standpoint of Bolshevism itself, to reconcile the action against Finland with that against the Baltic states….
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 346
Even though today we rightly condemn Stalin, we should also recognize that, given the situation at the time, many of the measures he took to delay the war and strengthen the USSR’s western defenses were to a large extent forced on him.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 366
We doubt whether Stalin had any more illusions about the value of this Pact than Hitler had. That is best proved by the Russian invasions of Poland, Finland, and Bessarabia which–tragic and indefensible though they were when judged by any moral standards, particularly in view of the hypocritical propaganda that accompanied these acts of aggression–were clearly and unambiguously measures of strategic protection against a threatening German attack. They were nothing more, certainly nothing in the nature of a “red imperialism,” as many people suggested.
Socialist Clarity Group. The U. S. S. R., Its Significance for the West. London: V. Gollancz, 1942, p. 59
SU CLOSELY ADHERED TO THE RUSSO-GERMAN PACT
It was obvious that the Soviet Union must be ready to supply Germany’s economic requirements. Especially at must be ready to supply strategic raw materials. This was the price not only of the peace enjoyed by the Soviet Union, but of its territorial gains. And Stalin delivered the supplies, carefully keeping to the agreements. Only in this way could he keep war away from his frontiers.
Basseches, Nikolaus. Stalin. London, New York: Staples Press, 1952, p. 348
Stalin was clearly determined, from the very start of the alliance, that nothing should be done which might in the slightest agree offend or upset his new partner.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 296
DESPITE HARD TIMES STALIN AIDED CHINA REPEATEDLY
In 1931 Japan delivered the first armed blow at the system of Versailles by occupying Manchuria. Stalin openly assisted the Chinese in every way possible, short of a declaration of war. He did this in spite of the fact that the whole of his country’s energies were directed towards the fulfillment of the first Five Year Plan and that widespread famine and sabotage were decimating the land.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 111
In September, 1931, on a trumped-up pretext the Japanese seized the Manchurian capital, Mukden, and within a few months extended their conquest over the whole of Manchuria, including the Chinese Eastern railroad, jointly owned and operated by the Russians and Chinese. Russia and Japan were brought to the verge of war because the Russians were convinced early in 1932 that Japan proposed to follow its Manchurian action by a drive through Outer Mongolia to the Russian area south of Lake Baikal, with the purpose of cutting off the Maritime Provinces of Eastern Siberia from the Soviet Union. The Russians faced this threat alone; far from having confidence in the Western Powers to check Japanese aggression, they believed that London at least was encouraging Japan to invade Siberia.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 183
Between 1919 and 1926 Sun Yat-Sen and and his followers turned definitely to the Soviet Union for help in their independence struggle. After repeated attempts to obtain aid from the United States and from various European governments, Sun Yat-sen became convinced that his best source of support was the Soviet Union. At the request of his government, and of the People’s party which he headed, the Soviet Union sent to China a core of technical assistants that at one time numbered approximately 300. The titular head of this group was Borodin.
Nearing, S. The Soviet Union as a World Power. New York: Island Workshop Press, 1945, p. 54
No figures are available showing the exact amount of material assistance sent by Russia into China during the 20 years that ended in 1937. In the first decade the material aid was probably considerable. In the second decade it diminished sharply. From the Japanese invasion of China in 1937 until the German invasion of Russia in 1941 Soviet aid to China again increased. Military necessity forced Soviet supplies to follow old caravan routes converted into extemporized truck roads across the Gobi desert.
Nearing, S. The Soviet Union as a World Power. New York: Island Workshop Press, 1945, p. 55
With minor exceptions Soviet Russia has extended consistent help to the movement for a Chinese Republic in the hope that a China directed by a Chinese Soviet government would be able to win its independence from the western empires, industrialize China, raise the standard of well-being of the Chinese masses and by so doing blaze the trail toward a Soviet Asia.
Nearing, S. The Soviet Union as a World Power. New York: Island Workshop Press, 1945, p. 56
On the question of the Sino-Soviet treaty of 1945,… the Russians would withdraw their troops from Port Arthur when the Chinese wished, and also yield up control of the trans-Manchurian railways. On other practical matters, Mao requested Soviet credits of 300 million U.S. dollars, as well as help developing domestic air transport routes and developing a navy, to all of which Stalin agreed.
Spence, Jonathan D. Mao Zedong. New York: Viking, 1999, p. 111
SU FULFILLED LEAGUE EFFORTS AGAINST AGGRESSORS
On September 18, 1934, in order to identify herself absolutely with the idea of European stability and peace, the USSR entered the League of Nations. Alone of all the members, she gave practical proof of a readiness to contribute more to the cause of peace than words and sympathy. When Mussolini sent his legions into Abyssinia, Moscow loyally fulfilled her obligations and welcomed the application of sanctions. Abyssinia was not Russia’s concern, she had no interest in arresting Italian designs in the Mediterranean and no African colonies to protect. She acted because she had no desire to see aggression elevated into a successful principle.
Cole, David M. Josef Stalin; Man of Steel. London, New York: Rich & Cowan, 1942, p. 112
STALIN CRITICIZES THE CHINESE COMMUNIST PARTY
Stalin has paid particular attention to the Chinese Communist Party and the heroic efforts of the Chinese Soviets. He personally undertook the stiffening of the line of the Chinese Party at the Chinese Commission of the Comintern in 1926. His intervention, which has become famous in the annals of the Communist international, contended against the errors and faults resulting from diffidence with regard to the Workers’ and Peasants’ Revolution, and a certain tendency to consider the Chinese Revolution as having to remain a middle-class democratic revolution. Well, “all the measures which he recommended have been ultimately justified by events.”
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 107
In a July 9, 1927, letter to Bukharin and Molotov Stalin stated, “I believe that such a danger is more real (I mean the danger of the disintegration of the Chinese Communist Party) than some of the seeming realities so abundant in China. Why? Because unfortunately, we don’t have a real or, if you like, actual Communist Party in China. If you take away the middle-ranking Communists who make good fighting material but who are completely inexperienced in politics, then what is the current Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party? Nothing but an ‘amalgamation’ of general phrases gathered here and there, not linked to one another with any line or guiding idea. I don’t want to be very demanding toward the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party. I know that one can’t be too demanding toward it. But here is a simple demand: fulfill the directives of the Comintern. Has it fulfilled these directives? No. No, because it did not understand them, because it did not want to fulfill them and has hoodwinked the Comintern, or because it wasn’t able to fulfill them. That is a fact. Roy blames Borodin. That’s stupid. It can’t be that Borodin has more weight with the Chinese Communist Party or its Central Committee than the Comintern does. Roy himself wrote that Borodin did not attend the Chinese Communist Party Congress since he was forced to go into hiding…. Some explain this by the fact that the bloc with the Kuomintang is to blame, which ties the Chinese Communist Party down and does not allow it to be independent. That is also not true, for although any block ties down the members of the bloc one way or another that doesn’t mean that we should be against blocs in general. Take Chiang’s five coastal provinces from Canton to Shanghai, where there’s no bloc with the Kuomintang. How can you explain that Chiang’s agents are more successful at disintegrating the ‘army’ of the Communists, than the Communists are at disintegrating Chiang’s rear guard? Is it not a fact that a whole number of trade unions are breaking off from the Chinese Communist Party, and Chiang continues to hold strong? What sort of Chinese Communist Party ‘independence’ is that?…. I think the reason is not in these factors, although they have their significance, but in the fact of the current Central Committee (it’s leadership) was forged in the period of the nationwide revolution and received its baptism by fire during this period and it turned out to be completely unadaptable to the new, agrarian phase of the revolution. The Chinese Communist Party Central committee does not understand the point of the new phase of the revolution. There is not a single Marxist mind in the Central Committee capable of understanding the underpinning (the social underpinning) of the events now occurring. The Chinese Communist Party Central committee was unable to use the rich period of the bloc with Kuomintang in order to conduct energetic work in openly organizing the revolution, the proletariat, the peasantry, the revolutionary military units, the revolutionizing of the army, the work of setting the soldiers against the generals. The Chinese Communist Party Central Committee has lived off the Kuomintang for a whole year and has had the opportunity of freely working and organizing, yet it did nothing to turn the conglomerate of elements (true, quite militant), incorrectly called a party, into a real party…. Of course there was work at the grassroots. We are indebted to the middle-ranking Communists for that. But characteristically, it was not the Central Committee that went to the workers and peasants but the workers and peasants who went to the Central committee, and the closer the workers and peasants approached the Central Committee, the farther away from them went the so-called Central Committee, preferring to kill time in behind-the- scenes talks with the leaders and generals from the Kuomintang. The Chinese Communist Party sometimes babbles about the hegemony of the proletariat. But the most intolerable thing about this babbling is that the Chinese Communist Party does not have a clue (literally, not a clue) about hegemony–it kills initiative of the working masses, undermines the ‘unauthorized’ actions of the peasant masses, and reduces class warfare in China to a lot of big talk about the ‘feudal bourgeoisie’.
That’s the reason why the Comintern’s directives are not fulfilled.
That is why I now believe the question of the party is the main question of the Chinese revolution.
How can we fix the conglomerate that we incorrectly call the Chinese Communist Party?… Both Borodin and Roy must be purged from China, along with all those opposition members that hinder the work there. We should regularly send to China, not people we don’t need, but competent people instead. The structure has to be set up so that all these party advisers work together as a whole, directed by the chief adviser to the Central Committee (the Comintern representative). These ‘nannies’ are necessary at this stage because of the weakness, shapelessness, political amorphousness, and lack of qualification of the current Central Committee. The Central committee will learn from the party advisors. The party advisors will compensate for the enormous shortcomings of the Chinese Communist Party Central Committee and its top regional officials. They will serve (for the time being) as the nails holding the existing conglomerate together as a party…. As the revolution and the party grow, the need for these ‘ nannies’ will disappear.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 140
On July 11, 1927, Stalin sent a letter to Molotov stating, “I read the Politburo directives on the withdrawal from the national government in China. I think that soon the issue of withdrawing from the Kuomintang will have to be raised. I’ll explain why when I come. I have been told that some people are in a repentant mood regarding our policy in China. If that is true, it’s too bad. When I come, I will try to prove that our policy was and remains the only correct policy. Never have I been so deeply and firmly convinced of the correctness of our policy, both in China and regarding the Anglo-Russian Committee, as I am now.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 143
Stalin, despite what is implied in the Trotskyite literature on the subject, did not love or trust Chiang; he simply underestimated him.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 277
… Stalin was to claim, and there is a hard-core of common sense in his argument, that though the Chinese policy failed, the premises under which it had been conducted could not be faulted. The Communists had to take the risk inherent in collaboration with the Kuomintang. Certainly the latter’s successes curtailed the influence of imperialist powers on China and set the stage for Communist successes some time in the future. The Chinese Communists could never have grown so impressively in membership and influence without collaborating with the Kuomintang, and it would have been sheer fantasy to imagine that in 1923 or 1927 they could have conquered a sizable part of China by themselves. There were occasions, he implied, when ideological incantations and citations from Marx and Lenin are powerless to change the disposition of class forces. Was it wrong to have the Revolution of 1905? he asked. It had ended in disaster, but it had also set the stage for 1917.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin: The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 277
In-substance the Trotsky-Zinoviev charges about China were absurd. To visualize how much so, we may compare them to the outcry of the American right wing a little more than 20 years later about how Truman and Acheson “lost China.” Those charges were unfair enough: how can one nation in peacetime determine the course of events in another vast and distant country? But at that time the United States was unquestionably the most powerful nation in the world, its industry producing more than half the entire global output. The American protEgE, Chiang, was until well into 1947 in control of most of mainland China, and it was his own policies as much as the Communists’ clever ones that brought about his doom. But here was a weak and impoverished Soviet Union, with its clients, the Chinese Communists, mustering a strength of only about 60,000. Could the most brilliant understanding of dialectic, the most “correct” directives sent to the Chinese comrades, have affected the issue of the struggle? Suppose that by some miracle the Chinese Communists had seized southern China: would the imperialist powers have tolerated their attempt to conquer the whole country? In his memoranda throughout 1926 Trotsky himself stressed the absolute necessity of not provoking Japan, of respecting her sphere of influence in Manchuria and north China. Any likely Communist conquest would have brought the capitalist powers together, would have presented the Soviet Far East with the danger of Japanese invasion, an invasion which everybody recognized, the Soviet Union was in no position to defeat.
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 278
CHIANG’S GOVT IS AN IMPERIALIST LACKEY
In an August 29, 1929, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “The point is really to use our tough position to unmask completely and to undermine the authority of Chiang Kai-shek’s government, a government of lackeys of imperialism, for attempting to become the model of ‘national government’ for the colonial and dependent countries. There can be no doubt that each clash between Chiang Kai-shek’s government and the Soviet government, just as each concession Chiang Kai-shek makes to us (and he is already starting to make concessions), is a blow against Chiang Kai-shek exposes Chiang Kai-shek’s government as a government of lackeys of imperialism and makes it easier to carry out the revolutionary education of the workers in colonial countries (and the Chinese workers above all). Litvinov and Karakhan (and they are not the only ones) don’t see that. So much the worse for them.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 174
LITVINOV TALKS LIKE A SECRET TRAITOR TO THE SU
MOLOTOV: Litvinov was utterly hostile to us. We bugged his talk with an American correspondent, an obvious spy,… What did Litvinov say?
He said, “You Americans won’t be able to deal with this Soviet government. Their positions preclude any serious agreement with you. Do you think this government, these hard-liners will meet you halfway in any sense? Nothing will come of your dealings with them.
…For the people have no tanks, but the government has…. The government has party officers in such numbers that the people cannot exert their own will to change things. Only external pressure can help, that is, a military campaign. Only Western intervention can change the situation in the country.”
He said nothing to me personally. That too was unconscionable. Utter treason.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 68
CHUEV: They write a lot about Litvinov these days. I remember you saying you didn’t trust him.
MOLOTOV: He was, of course, not a bad diplomat–a good one. But at heart he was quite an opportunist. He greatly sympathized with Trotsky, Zinoviev, and Kamenev, and thus couldn’t enjoy our absolute confidence.
I believe at the end of his life he turned rotten politically.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 69
I [Litvinov] do not like Koba and consider his policy pernicious….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 89
For once I am in full agreement with the Instantsia.
[This is the Foreign Minister speaking?]
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 269
My own view is that we need no security measures at all…. Foreigners don’t understand anything about our affairs in any case… except the Poles, who understand only too well all that is happening here…. They have the only real information network in the USSR….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 278
STALIN UNDERSTANDS THE TRICKS OF CAPITALIST GOVTS
In a September 9, 1929, letter to Molotov Stalin stated, “It’s not Henderson [British Foreign Office official] who is dangerous, since we have pushed him to the wall, but Litvinov, who believes Wise and other bastards more than the logic of things. Remember we are waging a struggle (negotiations with enemies is also struggle), not with England alone, but with the whole capitalist world, since the MacDonald government is the vanguard of the capitalist governments in the work of “humiliating’ and “bridling’ the Soviet government with “new,’ more “diplomatic,’ more disguised, and thus more “effective’ methods. The MacDonald government wants to show the whole capitalist world that it can take more from us (with the help of “gentle’ methods) than Mussolini, Poincare, and Baldwin, that it can be a greater Shylock than the capitalist Shylock himself. And it wants this because only in this way can it win the trust of its own bourgeoisie (and not only its bourgeoisie). We really would be worthless if we couldn’t manage to reply to these arrogant bastards briefly and to the point: “You won’t get a friggin’ thing from us.”
Naumov, Lih, and Khlevniuk, Eds. Stalin’s Letters to Molotov, 1925-1936. New Haven: Yale University Press, c1995, p. 178
MUNICH SELL-OUT WAS TO GET NAZIS HEADED EASTWARD
Britain, however, under Prime Minister Chamberlain, built up Hitler, granting to him in haste everything that had for a decade been refused to the German Republic–the remilitarization of the Rhineland, the Nazi-terrorized plebiscite in the Saar, German re-armament, naval expansion, the Hitler-Mussolini intervention in Spain. British finance, which had strangled German democracy by demanding impossible reparations, helped Hitler with investments and loans. Every intelligent world citizen knew that these favors were given to Hitler because British Tories saw in him their “strong-arm gangster” against the Soviets. If any doubt remained of the aims of both the British and French foreign offices, the Munich Conference removed it. That cynical sell-out of Czechoslovakia was their trump-card in inducing Hitler to march East.
Anyone who watched, as I did, the British moves of those days, saw that Chamberlain, who spoke of “appeasing” Hitler, really egged him on. He suggested giving the Czech’s Sudetenland to Hitler before anyone in Germany dared demand it….
The only ally that proposed to help the Czechs resist this sellout was the USSR.
…Why were Chamberlain and Daladier willing to sacrifice 27 Czech divisions and one of the best fortification lines in Europe? What made them give Hitler one of Europe’s best armament plants–the Skoda Works? Where they conscious traitors, or weak? A manager of a local industry said: “You can say it in four words–They’re afraid of Bolshevism.”
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 74
Although the main imperialist rivals in Europe were the same as in World War I (namely, British and French versus German), the British and French in the pre-World War II years not only allowed the German ruling class to rearm but made great concessions to it. They allowed the German rulers to take Austria, Czechoslovakia, and other territories on the understanding that these new economic and military resources would be used in war against the USSR. In the first phases of the war the British and French acquiesced in the German conquest of Poland, Denmark, Norway, Belgium, and Holland; and the French ruling class in effect gave its German counterpart a lease on its economic resources for the conquest of the socialist state. The British ruling class split on whether to follow suit but finally decided, with U.S. prodding, that the price was too high. U.S. imperialism saw such concessions as a serious risk, realizing that if German imperialism controlled all of Europe, including the USSR and Britain, it would next join forces with Japan and mount a war against the United States.
On the hand, neither the American imperialists nor the British wish to see the USSR victorious. Both hoped that the USSR and Germany would mutually exhaust each other and allow British and American imperialist interests to penetrate deep into Europe. Thus they supplied the USSR with what they thought was just enough assistance to help it to resist but not conquer the Germans. They delayed opening a second front in the hope of a Soviet-German stalemate, but delayed too long–until the Soviet armies were rolling on to Berlin and seemingly threatened to overrun Europe. The reason for their miscalculation was that they did not understand the special strengths of the socialist state.
Stalin, in spite of later assertions to the contrary, was well aware of all these matters. In March 1939, more than two years before the German invasion of the USSR, he commented:
“Or take Germany, for instance. They let her have Austria, despite the undertaking to defend her independence; they let her have the Sudeten region; they abandoned Czechoslovakia to her fate, thereby violating all their obligations; and then began to lie vociferously in the press about “the weakness of the Russian army,” “the demoralization of the Russian Air Force,” and “riots” in the Soviet Union, egging the Germans on to march farther east, promising them easy pickings, and prompting them: “Just start war on the Bolsheviks, and everything will be all right.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 109
Stalin understood perfectly that France and Britain were preparing a new Munich, that they were ready to sacrifice Poland, encouraging Hitler to march on the Soviet Union. Harold Ickes, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, wrote at the time in his journal:
“( England) kept hoping against hope that she could embroil Russia and Germany with each other and thus escape scot-free herself.”
Harold L. Ickes, The Secret Diary of Harold L. Ickes (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1954), Vol. 2, p. 705.
Martens, Ludo. Another View of Stalin. Antwerp, Belgium: EPO, Lange Pastoorstraat 25-27 2600, p. 233 [p. 187 on the NET]
To complete the picture of our mood I must say what we felt about the Western Democracies. Tragically, they offered us no hope. Both in the eyes of the thinking opposition and of the man in the street the Munich agreement had destroyed their moral authority. By that agreement Britain and France committed moral suicide. Hard though it is to say, in that crucial period between 1938 and 1941 hardly anyone in the USSR had a warm place in his heart for the British or the French. There was no need for any central Party directive. At meeting after meeting the opinion was expressed with genuine spontaneity that the Western Powers would betray us at the slightest opportunity and that we must, therefore, keep the utmost vigilance regarding the West. We mistrusted it from the bottom of our hearts.
Tokaev, Grigori. Comrade X. London: Harvill Press,1956, p. 169
To the Russians, Chamberlain, the British Prime Minister, was the archvillain. They held him in contempt, and blamed him for the collapse of the Soviet policy of collective security. They were convinced that he was encouraging Germany to march eastwards, leaving Britain and France to enjoy peace while fascism and communism destroyed each other….
It was probably about this time that Stalin decided to open the door to an alliance with Hitler. It was a calculated gamble, but he could see no alternatives.
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 304
In April 1939 diplomatic negotiations among the Soviet Union, England, and France were re-activated with the aim of establishing a system of collective security in Europe. But the most important Soviet proposals were rejected, while many of the English and French proposals were clearly unacceptable to the USSR. Moreover, the government of Chamberlain secretly continued to seek an agreement with the Germans to guarantee England’s security. The French and English ruling circles had obviously not abandoned their primary hope of turning German aggression eastward, against the Soviet state. Under these conditions Soviet diplomats again began to seek contacts with Germany.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 726
… England and France were playing an insecure and dangerous political game. They dragged out the negotiations with the Soviet Union while holding secret talks with Germany, still hoping that Germany would direct its aggression eastward.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 727
Most Western authors recount these events in a very tendentious manner–as though the Soviet Union were responsible for supporting Hitler in his attack on Poland and thus contributing to the outbreak of World War II. But this opinion is mistaken.
I do not intend to justify Stalin’s entire policy…. But the nonaggression pact should not be added to this list of Stalin’s errors….
The Soviet government was compelled to sign the pact because Britain and France, with their policy of toleration and nonintervention, had been encouraging German fascism and helped Germany recreate a strong military machine in the hope that it would be used against Bolshevism. Some of the big corporations in the United States had also helped, with the same aim in mind. The Munich accord of 1938, agreed to by Germany, Italy, England, and France, was what truly unleashed Hitler. After the occupation of Austria and Czechoslovakia the next step for Germany was almost certainly to try to destroy Poland. It was also clear to Hitler that England and France would “give up”: if they could be certain that German aggression would be directed eastward. “The enemy cherishes the hope,” Hitler declared at a military conference in Berlin on Aug. 22, 1939, “that Russia will become our enemy after the conquest of Poland.” Hitler considered France and Britain the weaker opponents, however, and at first planned to make war only on his Western front. To this day every document published in the West has confirmed that the Western governments of that time were responsible for the breakdown of negotiations for collective security in Europe. Under the circumstances the Soviet Union had to look after its own interests and security. In 1939 the nonaggression pact with Germany served that purpose.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 728
I would note in passing that, under the terms of an existing treaty, the Soviet Union and France were to assist Czechoslovakia jointly in case of an act of aggression against her. When in the fall of 1938 the threat became real, Moscow was ready to fulfill its commitment.
Mobilization orders were issued in the western part of the Soviet Union. France, on the other hand, did not live up to its part of the agreement and struck a deal in Munich without even consulting Moscow.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 22
[In 1936 Stalin said to Radek], “You know they’ll do all they can to forestall us by offering Hitler the neutrality of the West, to force him in our direction. We must put a stop to that.”
Alexandrov, Victor. The Tukhachevsky Affair. London: Macdonald, 1963, p. 28
With the temperature of the crisis soaring towards boiling point in September, 1938, Britain and France studiously avoided all the Soviet efforts to form a united front against Hitler.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 27
We must make it clearly understood that we shall continue the old historical process, that our dispute with Germany will be settled on the battlefields and that if somebody else–say Roosevelt–also resolves to fight Hitler, we shall be on his side in that hour when the fate of mankind is at stake.” Again he [Stalin] paused, and then added, “Please understand me! We must not act prematurely…. The danger is extremely great…. We cannot afford to receive the first blow… the most terrible blow of that war-machine–the biggest the world has ever seen…. If we did, we should be betrayed and finished…. All these Chamberlains, Halifaxes and the like wait only for that moment to let us down… to make us the prey of German imperialism…. They have less interest in us than in Togoland or the Cameroons…. They would rather give away the Ukraine than sacrifice any of their colonies…. We must be cautious….”
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 253
Europe in early 1939 was, in Stalin’s own words, a “poker game” with three players, in which each” hoped to persuade the other two to destroy one another and leave the third to take the winnings.
Montefiore, Sebag. Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. New York: Knopf, 2004, p. 302
The principle matter was settled: everyone, Stalin included, believed that Chamberlain was urging Hitler to embark on a crusade against the Russians, and that the Soviet government would have to take steps to divert the Germanic flood, and to direct it toward the valley of the Lower Danube, and then the Balkans and Asia minor,…
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 230
German Foreign Office documents captured by the Soviet troops after Germany’s defeat reveal the true purport of Great Britain’s and France’s policy at that period. They show that, essentially, British and French policy was not to unite the forces of the peace-loving states for a common struggle struggle against aggression, but to isolate the USSR and direct Hitler’s aggression toward the East, against the Soviet Union, using Hitler as a tool for their own ends.
Foreign Lang. Pub. House. Schuman, F. L. Intro. Falsifiers of History. Moscow, 1948, p. 16
Stalin chuckled, and said:
“The French Government headed by Daladier and the Chamberlain Government in Britain have no intention of getting seriously involved in the war with Hitler. They still hope to be able to persuade Hitler to start a war against the Soviet Union. They refused to form an anti-Hitler bloc with us in 1939, because they did not want to hamper Hitler in his aggression against the Soviet Union. But nothing will come of it. They will have to pay a high price for their short-sighted policy.”
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 206
While wishing to preserve peace as the decisive condition for building socialism in the USSR, Stalin saw that the governments of Britain and other Western countries were doing everything possible to prod Hitler into a war with the Soviet Union, that, being in a critical military situation and striving to save themselves from catastrophe, they were strongly interested in having the Germans attack the USSR. That was why Stalin distrusted the information he was getting from Western governments that Germany was about to attack the Soviet Union.
“Don’t you see?” Stalin would say. “They are trying to frighten us with the Germans and to frighten the Germans with us, setting us one against the other.”
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 1. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 267-268
Stalin stated, “In deciding to wage war against the Soviet Union, Hitler took into account the imperialist circles in Britain and the USA, who totally shared his thinking. And not without reason: they did everything they could to direct the military actions of the Wehrmacht against the Soviet Union.
Zhukov, Georgi. Reminiscences and Reflections Vol. 2. Moscow: Progress Pub., c1985, p. 282
SUMMARY OF BRITAIN AND FRANCE DRAGGING THEIR FEET IN SUMMER OF 1939
Voices in Britain and France demanded an alliance with the USSR to stop Hitler…. The USSR made several proposals for a triple alliance to guarantee both East and West Europe against the Nazis. Every suggestion was put on ice by the Chamberlain government and after delay, turned down. Chamberlain sought agreement rather with Hitler; on May 3, 1939, he startled the House of Commons by saying he was ready for a non-aggression pact with Germany. Two days later, he refused the proposal of the USSR for a military alliance.
Even Conservatives began to protest Chamberlain’s actions. Winston Churchill, on May 7th, in the House of Commons, demanded an alliance with the USSR. Under such pressure, the British and French ambassadors in Moscow were finally instructed, May 25th, to “discuss” an alliance. Ten vital weeks had been lost since the rape of Czechoslovakia. Three more weeks were wasted in waiting for a certain Mr. Strang to get to Moscow. This representative, sent by the British foreign office to “handle discussions,” proved, on arrival, to have no authority to sign anything…. The Soviets were clearly in haste; the British as clearly delayed. Suddenly, Moscow learned that the British Parliamentary Secretary of Overseas Trade had been discussing with a German official a loan of half a billion or a billion pounds.
To the Moscow leaders, it was clear that Britain either trifled or was trying to push war East….
Twice, Moscow signaled the British people that the discussions were getting nowhere. The first signal was the resignation on May 3rd, of Maxim Litvinov, Soviet Foreign Minister. For a decade he had symbolized to the world a program for peace through collective agreements against aggression. This program had failed, said Moscow through Litvinov’s resignation. It failed in Manchuria, in Abyssinia, in Spain, in China, in Austria, in Albania, in Czechoslovakia, in Memel–eight years of failure, because the government chiefs of the Western democracies appeased or encouraged the aggressors….
After six weeks, Moscow gave another signal. On July 29, Zhdanov, chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Supreme Soviet, declared in an article in Pravda that the talks with Britain and France were getting nowhere and that he did not think either Britain or France wanted an alliance or intended to check Hitler, but might be negotiating just to keep the Russians quiet while Hitler prepared to attack them.
At the end of July, when all Europe’s foreign offices knew that Hitler intended to seize the Polish corridor within a month, the Soviets made a last attempt. They suggested that Britain and France send military missions to Moscow to plan the mutual defense of East Europe on the spot. The missions waited ten days, then traveled by the slowest route; when they reached Moscow it was found they had no authority to agree to anything….
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 76
BENEFITS OF RUSSO-GERMAN NON-AGGRESSION PACT
The British and French, who had not scrupled to force the Czechs, by threats, to yield to Hitler, used no pressure to induce the Poles to accept the Soviet help.
So the Soviet Union made its decision. Hitler had offered a Non-Aggression Pact–he later admitted, in his declaration of war against the USSR, that the request came from him. The pact was signed between Germany and the USSR on August 23rd.
Hitler’s allies were angry. Mussolini and Franco openly disapproved. Terrible was the blow to Tokyo, for Japan was already fighting the USSR on the edge of Mongolia, and was reported to have told Hitler that she would be ready by August to join “the big push.”
In that tragic time, when Poland was breaking, a Soviet diplomat said to me: “But for our Non-Aggression Pact, we would now be under attack, from both Europe and Asia, by the Alliance of Germany, Italy, and Japan. Britain and France would have held the Maginot Line and financed Hitler. America would have been Japan’s arsenal against us, as she has been against China. By our Non-Aggression Pact, we drove wedges between Hitler, Japan, and Hitler’s London backers. It was too late to stop the invasion of Poland; Chamberlain didn’t even try. But we have split the camp of world fascism and shall not have to fight the whole world.”
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 78
I believe that the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact of 1939 was historically inevitable, given the circumstances of the time, and that in the final analysis it was profitable for the Soviet Union. It was like a gambit in chess: if we hadn’t made that move, the war should have started earlier, much to our disadvantage. As it was, we were given a respite. I think the vast majority of the Party considered the signing of the treaty tactically wise on our part, even though nobody could say so publicly….
All the while the English and French and the whole bourgeois press were trying to sic Hitler on the Soviet Union, trumpeting, ” Russia is nothing but a colossus with feet of clay!”
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 129
The same Edward H. Carr, noting that the Chamberlain government “as a defender of capitalism” turned down an alliance with the USSR against Germany, made the following estimation of the gains made by the Soviet Union as a result of signing the Non-aggression treaty with Germany:
“In the pact of August 23rd, 1939, they [the Soviet government] secured: (a) a breathing space of immunity from attack; (b) German assistance in mitigating Japanese pressure in the Far East; (c) German agreement to the establishment of an advanced bastion beyond the existing Soviet frontiers in Eastern Europe; it was significant that this bastion was, and could only be, a line of defense against potential German attack, the eventual prospect of which was never far absent from Soviet reckonings. But what most of all was achieved by the pact was the assurance that, if the USSR had eventually to fight Hitler, the Western powers would already be involved.” (Carr, From Munich to Moscow: II, in Soviet Studies, Vol. I, October 1949, page 103).
Brar, Harpal. Trotskyism or Leninism. 1993, p. 570
On the hand, the signing of a nonaggression pact could avert war between Germany and the Soviet Union, at least for some time. Stalin did not rule out the idea that eventually he would have to confront Hitler. However, he wanted to put off the conflict for as long as he could. A pact appeared to offer a prospect of that.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 29
Russia was to supply Germany with grain and raw materials and to receive German machines and machine tools. One of the first things Stalin did, after the conclusion of the pact, was to dispatch his military missions to Germany. With what avidity those missions tried, in the first flush of friendship, to ferret out the German war industries can be seen from the complaints about their ‘excessive curiosity’, which Goering, Keitel, and Rader were already lodging at the beginning of October 1939. A little later Nazi economic leaders complained that the Russians wanted too many machine tools for the production of artillery and too much other war material.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 443
Four days later, on May 11, 1939, the first attack came. The crack Japanese army that had invaded Manchuria struck into the Soviet Union. The Soviet-Japanese war of 1939 is conveniently omitted from our history books, but this war, together with the Anglo-French collaboration with the Nazis and fascists in the West, form the context for another of Stalin’s great “crimes,” the Soviet-German nonaggression pact of August 1939. Stalin recognized that the main aim of the Axis was to destroy the Soviet Union, and that the other capitalist nations were conniving with this scheme. He also knew that sooner or later the main Axis attack would come on the USSR’s western front. Meanwhile, Soviet forces were being diverted to the east, to fend off the Japanese invaders. The nonaggression pact with Nazi Germany, which horrified and disillusioned Communist sympathizers, particularly intellectuals, in the capitalist nations, was actually one of the most brilliant strategic moves of Stalin’s life, and perhaps of diplomatic history. From the Soviet point of view it accomplished five things: (1) it brought needed time to prepare for the Nazi attack, which was thus delayed for two years; (2) it allowed the Red Army to concentrate on smashing the Japanese invasion, without having to fight on two fronts; they decisively defeated the Japanese within three months; (3) it allowed the Soviet Union to retake the sections of White Russia and the Ukraine that had been invaded by Poland during the Russian Civil War and were presently occupied by the Polish military dictatorship; this meant that the forthcoming Nazi invasion would have to pass through a much larger area defended by the Red Army; (4) it also allowed Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which also had been part of Russia before the Civil War, to become part of the USSR as Soviet republics; this meant that the forthcoming Nazi attack could not immediately outflank Leningrad; (5) most important of all, it destroyed the Anglo-French strategy of encouraging a war between the Axis powers and the Soviet Union while they enjoyed neutrality; World War II was to begin as a war between the Axis powers and the other capitalist nations, and the Soviet Union, if forced into it, was not going to have to fight alone against the combined fascist powers. The worldwide defeat of the fascist Axis was in part a product of Stalin’s diplomatic strategy, as well as his later military strategy.
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 25
At Munich the British and French had given Germany parts of Czechoslovakia “as a price for undertaking to launch war on the Soviet Union, which the Germans now refused to honor.”
Bullock, Alan. Hitler and Stalin: Parallel Lives. New York: Knopf, 1992, p. 604
No counterfeiters can expunge from history or from the minds of the people’s the overriding factor that under the circumstances the Soviet Union was faced with the alternative:
Either, in its self-defense, to accept Germany’s proposal for a pact of non-aggression, and thereby insure the Soviet Union prolongation of peace for a certain period, which might be utilized to better prepare the forces of the Soviet State for resistance to eventual aggression;
Or to reject Germany’s proposal for a non-aggression pact, and thereby allow the provocateurs of war in the camp of the Western Powers to embroil the Soviet Union immediately in an armed conflict with Germany, at a time when the situation was utterly unfavorable to the Soviet Union, seeing that it would be completely isolated.
Under these circumstances, the Soviet Government was compelled to make its choice and conclude a non-aggression pact with Germany.
The slanderous claptrap that all the same the USSR should not have agreed to conclude a pact with the Germans can only be regarded as ridiculous. Why was it right for Poland, who had Britain and France as allies, to conclude non-aggression pact with the Germans in 1934, and not right for the Soviet Union, which was in a less favorable situation, to conclude a similar pact in 1939? Why was it right for Britain and France, who were the dominant force in Europe, to issue joint a declaration of non-aggression with the Germans in 1938, and not right for the Soviet Union, isolated as it was because of the hostile policy of Britain and France, to conclude a pact with the Germans?
Is it not a fact that of all the non-aggressive Great Powers in Europe, the Soviet Union was the last to agree to a pact with the Germans?
Foreign Lang. Pub. House. Schuman, F. L. Intro. Falsifiers of History. Moscow, 1948, p. 39-40
SU HAD HINDERED NAZIS PRIOR TO BEING INVADED
Hitler saw that the USSR, as a neutral, was the immediate barrier in his path to world rule. In the 22 months of the Non-Aggression Pact, the USSR had three times blocked the Nazi advance. The Soviet march into Poland had checked for a year Hitler’s advance to the East; the Soviet return to Bessarabia had pulled him back from invading Britain; and Moscow’s power politics in the Balkans and Baltic had delayed him at the Dardanelles.
Strong, Anna Louise. The Stalin Era. New York: Mainstream, 1956, p. 90
SU WANTED PEACE SO BAD IT SIGNED A PACT WITH THE NAZIS
The USSR wanted peace above all things else and to get it, in his [The—–minister] opinion, would pay even the price of an agreement with Hitler. This is an extraordinary view in the face of the violent way in which Hitler and Stalin are calling each other all the vile names under the sun.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 82
…the Soviet government left no stone unturned to impart to the rest of Europe its own awareness of the Nazi peril. Its representatives ran hither and yon offering to all and sundry pacifist agreements, nonaggression pacts, and economic accords. They conducted negotiations not only with nations that might become victims of Nazi aggression, but with powers unfriendly to Russia, like Poland and Finland, and, on an economic basis, with Germany itself. In those days the Russians were like Cassandra, prophesying evil and striving desperately to avert it, but finding few to heed their warnings. Even the Comintern was pressed into the campaign for peace. It instructed foreign Communist Parties to make common cause wherever possible with Labor and liberal groups and to form a “United Front against the Nazi-Fascist danger.”
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 226
…As leader, he [Stalin] could say he was aiming the country towards catching up and overtaking the developed capitalist countries, but he needed time and he needed peace, peace at any price.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 384
For Stalin, the options had expired. Between Schulenburg’s visits to the Kremlin… Stalin finally took the decision to go with Hitler. It was, on the evidence available, the only way left for him to protect his country.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 220
DAVIES SAYS WEST’S POLICY MAY DRIVE SU TO PACT WITH NAZIS
In a January 18, 1939, letter to Harry Hopkins Ambassador Davies said, “The Chamberlain policy of throwing Italy, Poland, and Hungary into the arms of Hitler may be completed by so disgusting the Soviets that it will drive Russia into an economic agreement and an ideological truce with Hitler. That is not beyond the bounds of possibility or even probability….”
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 434
In a March 21, 1939, letter to Sen. Key Pittman, Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the United States, Ambassador Davies stated, “From information that I get from most responsible sources and that I think is reliable, Hitler is making a desperate effort to alienate Stalin from France and Britain. Unless the British and French wake up, I am afraid he will succeed. If he does, he can turn his attention to Western Europe without any concern as to an attack from behind.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 439
STALIN GIVES UP TRYING TO SIGN PACTS WITH THE WEST
…Stalin’s speech to the Communist Party, delivered to the 18th Congress in March last (1939), definitely indicated a disposition toward withdrawal of Soviet activities so far as Europe was concerned, and a tendency to be extremely cautious “not to allow our country to be drawn into conflicts by warmongers who are accustomed to have others pull their chestnuts out of the fire for them”;…
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 444
[Report to the 18th Congress on March 10, 1939]
The tasks of the Party in the sphere of foreign policy are:
2. To be cautious and not allow our country to be drawn into conflicts by warmongers who are accustomed to having others pull the chestnuts out of the fire for them;
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 346
In a July 18, 1941, letter to Harry Hopkins Ambassador Davies said, “From my observation and contacts, since 1936, I believe that outside of the President of the United States alone no government in the world saw more clearly the menace of Hitler to peace and the necessity for collective security and alliances among nonaggressive nations than did the Soviet government. They were ready to fight for Czechoslovakia. They canceled their nonaggression pact with Poland in advance of Munich because they wished to clear the road for the passage of their troops through Poland to go to the aid of Czechoslovakia if necessary to fulfill their treaty obligations. Even after Munich and as late as the spring of 1939 the Soviet government agreed to join with Britain and France if Germany should attack Poland or Romania, but urged that an international conference of nonaggressor states should be held to determine objectively and realistically what each could do and then serve notice on Hitler of their combined resistance. They claimed that this was the only thing that would stop Hitler’s aggression against European peace. The suggestion was declined by Chamberlain by reason of the objection of Poland and Romania to the inclusion of Russia; and the disastrous unilateral agreements were then promoted and entered into by Britain.
During all the spring of 1939 the Soviets, fearful that they were being used as the “cat’s paw” to “pull the chestnuts out of the fire” and would be left to fight Hitler alone, tried to bring about a definite agreement that would assume unity of action and co-ordination of military plans to stop Hitler.
Even as late as August 1939 the commissions of France and Germany were in Moscow for that purpose. Britain, however, refused to give the same guarantees of protection to Russia with reference to the Baltic states which Russia was giving to France and Britain in the event of aggression against Belgium or Holland. The Soviets became convinced, and with considerable reason, that no affective, direct and practical, general arrangement could be made with France and Britain. They were driven to a pact of nonaggression with Hitler.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 495
In his diary dated October 28, 1941, Ambassador Davies recorded the following answer to the question: Will Stalin make a separate peace with Hitler? “The last question indicated to me how utterly people of this country misjudge the Russian situation. The real question which is vital now is, “Will WE force Stalin to make peace with Hitler again?” We, or rather the European democracies, forced Stalin into Hitler’s arms in August of 1939. We–that is to say, England and America–could force Stalin into Hitler’s arms again if Stalin were to believe that we were ready to let him down, use the Soviet army merely as a cat’s paw and double-cross him in the way that Chamberlain and Daladier did before and after Munich and up to the eve of Armageddon.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 509
The English and French representatives who came to Moscow to talk with Voroshilov didn’t really want to join forces with us against Hitler at all. Our discussions with them were fruitless. We knew that they weren’t serious about an alliance with us and that their real goal was to incite Hitler against us. We were just as glad to see them leave.
That’s how the Ribbentrop-Molotov Pact, as it was called in the West, came into being. We knew perfectly well that Hitler was trying to trick us with the treaty. I heard with my own ears how Stalin said, “Of course it’s all a game to see who can fool whom. I know what Hitler’s up too. He thinks he’s outsmarted me, but actually it’s I who have tricked him!” Stalin told Voroshilov, Beria, myself, and some other members of the Politburo that because of this treaty the war would pass us by for a while longer. We would be able to stay neutral and save our strength.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 128
Stalin, however, was aware–as were all Marxists at the time–that the British and French ruling classes were split on the issue. Hence the Soviet government offered to honor their treaty with France to come to the aid of Czechoslovakia. This the French government, with Chamberlain’s backing, turned down. The Soviet government then (April 1939) offered Britain and France a mutual assistance pact. This, too, was rejected. When it became clear that the right-wing, fanatically anti-Soviet sections of the British and French bourgeoisie were in political control, then, and only then, the Soviet government signed a nonaggression pact with Germany (August 1939). This pact gave the USSR a breathing space of almost two years to build up its armed forces for what it saw as an inevitable attack. At the time the pact was stigmatized by some as an alliance. If it had been, Britain would have been conquered and the United States put under siege. Churchill at the time considered the Soviet action as “realistic in a high degree.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 110
It is certain that the Soviet-German nonaggression pact delayed the Soviet Union’s entry into the war by two years.
Medvedev, Roy. Let History Judge. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989, p. 731
Stalin’s speech of March 10, 1939, delivered to the Eighteenth Congress of the communist party, was, however, a clear indication of his dissatisfaction with the democracies, and his impending withdrawal from their front. He pointed out that war–“the second imperialist war”–had been going on since the Japanese invasion of Manchuria in 1931. He pointed out that the non-aggressor democracies were beyond doubt stronger than the aggressor states, but that nevertheless the democracies continued to give way to them. They surrendered Spain, Czechoslovakia, parts of China. Why? One reason he adduced was fear of revolution. Another was that the democracies, no longer interested in collective security, found that non-intervention, a policy of isolation and neutrality, served their best interests. Stalin indicated quite clearly that he could play this same game. Britain, he implied, played Germany off against Russia. Very well. Why should not Russia, in turn, play Germany off against Britain?
Gunther, John. Inside Europe. New York, London: Harper & Brothers, c1940, p. 574
SU DID NOT LIKE THE APPEASEMENTS
Then followed a series of developments which aggravated the relationships between the Soviet government and the Western democracies.
The Soviets were “humiliated” and “deeply hurt” by being excluded from Munich.
Out of “appeasement” there grew still greater distrust, so far as the Soviet government was concerned, in either the capacity, the intention, or even the “pledged word” of the Chamberlain government or the Daladier government.
The Soviet proposals for a “realistic alliance” to stop Hitler were rejected, be the Chamberlain government….
During the Soviet-British-French negotiations, including the sessions of the Strang mission and Military Missions to Moscow, this distrust was intensified by the fact that these authorities were not clothed with power to close a final, definite realistic alliance.
The suspicion continued to grow that Britain and France were playing a diplomatic game to place the Soviets in the position where Russia would have to fight Germany alone.
Then there came the Hudson proposals for economic rehabilitation of Germany which again smacked of “appeasement” from the point of view of the Soviets. This was followed by the adjournment of Parliament by the Chamberlain government, without the conclusion of any definite agreement with Russia and the discovery by the Soviet leaders that a British Economic Mission had been sent to Denmark, allegedly with Chamberlain’s blessing, to study economic appeasement, along the line of policy which has been initiated by Hudson.
Added to this France and England had persisted in a refusal to enter into an unequivocal agreement to support Russia in the protection of Russia’s vital interest, in preventing the absorption through internal aggression of the Baltic states, whereas Russia had offered unequivocal support to Britain and France to come to their aid if their vital interests were affected by a German attack upon Belgium or Holland, regardless of the character of the aggression.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 455
STALIN AIDED SMALL NATIONS AGAINST FASCIST AGGRESSION
The Soviet Union, from the beginning, never faltered in getting aid and assistance to China.
Throughout their participation in the League of Nations, the Soviet government led the fight for the protection of little nations vigorously and boldly. This was the fact in the case of Ethiopia and Spain.
No government saw more clearly or stated with greater accuracy what Hitler was doing and would do and what ought to be done to preserve peace and prevent the projection of a war by Hitler than did the Soviets. That is a fact regardless of whether their motive was ideological or whether it was for the safety of their own people.
Davies, Joseph E. Mission to Moscow. New York, N. Y.: Simon and Schuster, c1941, p. 496
Those who have criticized the USSR for failing to intervene “arms in hand” to advance or save a revolution abroad have either urged the impossible or advocated an adventurism which would injure not only the USSR but the world proletariat. At the same time, when the USSR has been able to intervene directly the same critics condemn the action as unwarranted interference and suppression of “rights.”
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 91
LONDON POLES ARE HINDERING THE ANTI-NAZI WAR
At the end of the dinner, I asked how America could help Poland. Their [the London Poles] reply was, “If America really wants to help Poland, don’t have a second front in France.” I was appalled. Their attitude was so twisted that they were perfectly willing to prolong the war, endanger the chances of victory, and bring death to countless additional American boys, not to mention continued slavery and death for Nazi occupied Poland.
Davis, Jerome. Behind Soviet Power. New York, N. Y.: The Readers’ Press, Inc., c1946, p. 99
The Home Army’s policy was thus the military reflection of the London Polish Government’s political strategy, which continued to the last to refuse to recognize one basic and inescapable fact about the nation’s destiny. It was simply that Poland could be restored to greatness only as a result of Red Army victory and heavy sacrifice of Russian blood.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 56
Before the Polish government could move its seat from Lublin to Warsaw, the Hitlerites had to be driven back further. Our troops advanced all the way to the Vistula River, coming literally within a few steps of the German-occupied capital.
Suddenly an uprising broke out in the city [ Warsaw]. It’s leader was the General Bor-Komorowski. He was acting on instructions from Mikolajczyk, an outrageous anti-Soviet and anti-Communist who headed the Polish government-in-exile under Churchill’s wing in London.
Ever since the Soviet army began its advance into Poland, Bor-Komorowski had been under orders from London not to engage in actions against the Hitlerite occupiers and not to aid the Soviet liberators in any way. It seems Mikolajczyk’s anti-Communist government-in-exile wanted to save its armed forces in Poland for the coming struggle against the Soviet army.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 187
SU SLOWLY MOVED FROM BEING NEUTRAL TO SUPPORTING COMMUNISTS IN CHINA
In 1945 a significant strain became apparent in Sino-Soviet relations, and the Crimean conference did nothing to alleviate it, as many had hoped it might. In general the Soviet attitude had shifted from one of formal “neutrality” in the internal quarrel between the Kungchantang, or Communist Party, and the Kuomintang, the nationalist party of the Generalissimo, to one of openly expressed repugnance for the “ruling circles” of the Kuomintang’s government at Chungking, and nearly all it represented.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 121
…Today (1945) Moscow views the Kuomintang regime with only slightly more confidence than it ever placed in the Polish Government-in-exile.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 122
CHINESE COMMUNISTS ARE REAL MARXISTS
Thus, it is misleading to contend that Chinese Communists are not Marxists, or that they do not hope, ultimately, to build up a classless, socialist state in China, or that they are not very close to the Soviet Union in their sympathies. People who try to persuade Americans to accept them on the ground that they are not “real Communists”–in the foregoing sense–are either misinformed or deliberately dishonest.
Snow, Edgar. The Pattern of Soviet Power, New York: Random House, 1945, p. 136
The Chinese further deepened the rift because they are semi-Marxists rather than true Marxists.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 386
MOLOTOV SAYS TAKING PART OF POLAND WAS NECESSARY TO KEEP NAZIS AWAY
MOLOTOV: We negotiated with the British and French before talking to the Germans. If the West had permitted our troops in Czechoslovakia and Poland, then of course we would have fared better. They refused, thus we had to take at least partial measures; we had to keep German troops at a distance.
If we hadn’t moved toward the Germans in 1939, they would have invaded all Poland right up to our old border.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 9
MOLOTOV SAYS HITLER MET HIM TO GET THE SU TO ATTACK ENGLAND
CHUEV: Was there any point for the Germans to meet with you in 1940?
MOLOTOV: They wanted to fool us and draw us into a war with England on the side of Germany. Hitler wished to see whether he could involve us in the adventure.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 19
STALIN WANTS SAFE, SENSIBLE BORDER WITH POLAND
But we, Stalin and I, insisted on having at our border an independent but not hostile Poland. At the negotiations and even before, disputes raged over borders–the Curzon Line, the Ribbentrop-Molotov Line. Stalin said, “Call it what you please, but our border will be here!” Churchill objected, “But Lvov was never a Russian city!” “But Warsaw was,” Stalin calmly replied.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 53
We cannot lose Poland. If this line is crossed they will grab us too.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 54
“Churchill wants the Soviet Union to border with a bourgeois Poland, alien to us, while we cannot allow this to happen,” Stalin said. “We want to have, once and for all, a friendly Poland as our neighbor, and that’s what the Polish people want too.”
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 583
Now, Stalin had already insisted that the future government of Poland, which would be subject to the Soviet government, should accept as the eastern frontier the Curzon line, leaving the territories which were ethnically Ukrainian and White Russian to the USSR. The Poles installed in London would not agree to this, and finally created a situation which threatened the normal relations between Stalin, Roosevelt, and Churchill.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 366
Before a further meeting with the President of the USA Stalin accordingly tried to enlarge the future Government of Lublin by accepting representatives of the London Government and of the Polish resistance groups, on condition that all should solemnly recognize the Curzon line. In exchange, he promised Poland the territories to the West which she had lost during the centuries of German pressure. This compensation was economically greater than the value of the territories lost in the east. He was evidently seeking to make the new Poland, by gifts bestowed at the expense of the Reich, a friendly country…. The London Poles proclaimed that those who accepted the Curzon line were ” traitors to their country.”
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 367
STALIN AND MOLOTOV KEPT CLOSE CHECKS ON ALL DIPLOMATS
…But we had honest, prudent, competent, and well-read diplomats. I think it was hard to fool us because Stalin and I kept a tight hold on everything–we couldn’t do it any other way at the time.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 69
I don’t recall our ever being cheated by foreign diplomacy. Of course, in some cases we acted more skillfully, and others less. We were always careful and didn’t pull any big blunders, to my mind. But there were small mistakes, of course.
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 70
But it seems that diplomats need special training. They’re not just party workers.
I personally was never specially trained. My experience was party work and party polemics….
Chuev, Feliks. Molotov Remembers. Chicago: I. R. Dee, 1993, p. 76
STALIN DEFINITELY WANTED TO AVOID A TWO FRONT WAR
The strategic goal of the Soviet leadership was to avert war on two fronts, in the Far East and in Europe, at any cost.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 96
ENGLAND AND FRANCE SENT LESSER FIGURES TO NEGOTIATE PRIOR TO THE WAR
The French and British delegations that arrived in Moscow in August 1939 to probe the possibility of an alliance against Hitler were headed by secondary figures. Stalin’s policy of appeasing Hitler thus was based on the reasonable belief that hostility against Soviet communism by the Western world and Japan would forever keep the USSR in isolation from the international community.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 97
What is certain is that, if the western governments had wanted to drive him [Stalin] into Hitler’s arms, they could not have set about doing so more effectively than they did. The Anglo-French military mission delayed its departure for 11 precious days. It wasted five days more en route, traveling by the slowest possible boat. When it arrived in Moscow its credentials and powers were not clear. The governments whose prime ministers had not considered it beneath their dignity to fly to Munich almost at Hitler’s nod, refused to send any official of ministerial standing to negotiate the alliance with Russia. The servicemen sent for military talks were of lesser standing than those sent, for instance, to Poland and Turkey. If Stalin intended an alliance, the way he was treated might almost have been calculated to make him abandon his intention.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 434
THE MOLOTOV-RIBBENTROP SECRET PROTOCOLS WERE NOT SECRET
…When I look now at the Molotov-Ribbentrop secret protocols, I find nothing secret in them. The directives based on these agreements were definite and clear, and were known not only to the intelligence directorate but to the heads of military, diplomatic, economic, and border guards administrations. In fact, the famous map of the division of Poland, which was attached to the protocols in October 1939, was published a week later in Pravda, without Stalin’s and Ribbentrop’s signatures, for the whole world to see. By then, of course, Poland had fallen to Germany, and Britain and France had entered the war.
Sudoplatov, Pavel. Special Tasks. Boston: Little, Brown, c1993, p. 98
STALIN AIDED THE CHINESE COMMUNISTS
Nevertheless, the seed of freedom was bearing fruit and the Chinese nation was ready to hear the Moscow Gospel. Stalin, like Lenin his master, a subtle opportunist, must have welcomed the chance of confuting by action in China the Trotskyist charge that he was betraying the cause of World Revolution. Actually, whether Stalin knew it or not, he was swimming with the tide of Russia’s eastward surge when in 1925 he sent military and political advisers, Army Commander Blucher, called Galen, and Borodin to Canton, where Sun Yat-sen’s brother-in-law, Chiang Kai-shek, had headed a new nationalist movement for Chinese unity and freedom from foreign control.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 143
In view of the Kuomintang treachery and the Communist Party defeat in the cities, it has been argued that the Communist International was wrong in its united front policy. Trotsky, for instance, lamented in 1928 that Stalin’s “monstrous” policy had “broken the spine of the young Communist Party of China.” Events, of course, showed otherwise. The Party not only survived but the united front policy had given the very small Communist Party access to the workers and peasants under the massive Kuomintang Party’s control. Mao, for instance, was able to organize the peasants in these years on the scale that he did, not because of his Communist Party membership, but because he was deputy head and actual leader of the Kuomintang’s Peasant Movement Training Institute. (At the same time Chou En-lai was deputy head of the political section of the Kuomintang’s Military Academy, and other Communist leaders simultaneously occupied leading positions in the Kuomintang.) Largely because of these connections, the Communist Party grew from a small sect to a party of 57,000 within six years. If it had not grown thus, it could not have survived the attack upon it–which, given the existing class forces, would have come anyway, alliance or no alliance–and lived to lead movements that soon resulted in a mass revolutionary base including rural Soviets.
The policy of collaboration between the Communist Party and the Kuomintang was not initiated by Stalin but by Lenin. Stalin apparently did not come actively on the China scene until 1925, and when he did he followed the already established policy, with which he agreed. Even after Chiang’s attack on the Communist Party, Stalin for a time hoped that the Party could continue an alliance with the left wing of the Kuomintang led by Sun Yat-sen’s widow, Ching-ling Soong, among others. However, the left wing folded under pressure and the right became dominant. When this happened, Stalin (like Mao) placed the emphasis on the peasantry–with a mass revolutionary perspective–rather than on a new alliance with bourgeois or petty bourgeois leaders:..
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 95
It was only when it became clear that Chiang was uniting with U.S. imperialism for a concerted drive against the communists that the Chinese Communist Party decided that a revolutionary war presented the only way out. Stalin did not oppose this view because he was opposed to the Chinese revolution as such. That he was not is shown by his release of large amounts of captured Japanese arms and equipment to the Chinese communists in 1945, following the Soviet invasion of Manchuria. He opposed Mao’s view presumably because he did not believe that the Chinese communists would win a civil war in which Chiang had superior armaments and numbers…. However, the conversation with Djilas also shows that Stalin did not conceive of himself as giving “orders” to the Chinese communists but only advice, and that Stalin was not only pleased but rather amused that they had shown him to be wrong. Later Stalin welcomed Mao in Moscow.
…Mao, then, did not argue that Stalin had tried to hold back the Chinese revolution at any stage as part of a policy of placing Soviet nationalist interests above international revolutionary ones, as his enemies were contending. He said only that Stalin made mistakes, “without realizing that they were errors,” the implication being, perhaps, that he had too narrow a revolutionary vision. Mao felt that Stalin had supported the Chinese revolution unselfishly, and, as he noted in 1950, Stalin rejoiced in its triumph. Stalin also introduced the policy of economic and technical aid to China that was later reversed by Khrushchev. We should note, too, that, as events were to show, Stalin was right in his feeling that insufficient emphasis was being given to the Chinese working-class.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 98
After the war, Stalin gave a great deal of assistance to the Chinese revolution. Arms and equipment of all kinds were delivered to the People’s Liberation Army, and by the second half of 1947 the winds of victory were filling its sails and Chiang was forced to flee with his remnant to Taiwan. Given persistent U.S. hostility, Mao was bound to opt for friendship with the Soviet Union, and after the Chinese revolution relations developed rapidly in numerous spheres, culminating in Mao’s invitation to Moscow to join in the celebration of Stalin’s 70th birthday.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 539
… Stalin very early outlined the basic theory of the Chinese revolution. Trotsky attacks this theory, which he sneers at as “guerrilla adventure,” because it is not based on the cities as the revolutionary centers, because it relies on class allies of the proletariat, particularly the peasantry, and because it is primarily anti-feudal and anti-imperialist rather than focused primarily against Chinese capitalism. After 1927, when the first liberated base areas were established in the countryside, Trotsky claimed that this revolution could no longer be seen as proletarian but as a mere peasant rebellion, and soon he began to refer to its guiding theory as the Stalin-Mao line. To this day, Trotskyites around the world deride the Chinese revolution as a mere “Stalinist bureaucracy.” The Chinese themselves do acknowledge that at certain points Stalin gave some incorrect tactical advice, but they are quick to add that he always recognized and corrected these errors and was self-critical about them. They are very firm in their belief that they could not have made their revolution without his general theory, his over-all leadership of the world revolutionary movement, and the firm rear area and base of material support he provided. Thus the only really valid major criticism comes from anti-Communists, because without Stalin, at least according to the Chinese, the Communists would not have won.
Franklin, Bruce, Ed. The Essential Stalin; Major Theoretical Writings. Garden City, New York: Anchor Books, 1972, p. 21-22
Soviet experts and Soviet weapons helped Mao seize control of Northern and Central China.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 510
STALIN FOOLED THE JAPANESE WHO WERE PREPARING TO ATTACK
Stalin met the peril [of Japanese aggression in the early 1930’s] with guile and determination. He and his Soviet Russia have proved their merit since then, but Stalin was never so great as when he did what he now did… and never so vilified as for doing it. Russia’s position was desperate–must I say that again? Japan, as Russia believed and as was probably true, was on the verge of invasion, and the Red Army had not enough food reserves, irrespective of other supplies, to fight a war; but the Japanese didn’t know it, and Stalin’s bluff succeeded, at frightful cost to his country.
Although I had been the New York Times correspondent in Moscow for more than ten years, I don’t for a moment pretend that I knew what was going on. I did not know, for instance, that the grain reserve of the Red Army was greatly depleted, that much of it had been taken to feed the towns and construction camps and pay foreign obligations in 1930 and 1931. Like other foreigners, including the Japanese, I thought that the measures adopted by the Kremlin to hasten the grain collections in the spring of 1932 meant simply that Stalin had decided he could rush through the fight for rural Socialism and win it by quick ruthless action. That indeed was the note of the Moscow press, with the obbligato of triumph about the Five-Year Plan in Four, and the great Dnieper Dam, the biggest in the world, to be completed in the summer, two years ahead of time. The Bolshevik habit of secrecy and distrust, acquired in years of conspiracy and prosecution, of living devious lives under “alias” names, and watching always for police spies in their midst, served Stalin well at this time. There was a gasoline shortage in Moscow, even for diplomats and other privileged foreigners; the Five-Year Plan demanded it. Their facilities for travel were restricted; the railroads could hardly bear the strain of the Five-Year Plan. There came stories from the provinces that the peasants once more were dismayed and bewildered by collectivization methods; that was due to the Five-year Plan. But no word of the danger of war, no suggestion that the Army needed gas and grain to be able to fight a war, not to mention boots and clothing which vanished from Moscow’s stores. Foreign observers in Moscow were fooled, but so were the Japanese, and it was only many months later that I learned what had really happened in the spring of 1932.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 191
STALIN’S REACTION TO MUNICH SELL-OUT
Moscow’s reaction to Munich was one of wounded pride and savage anger, but hardly of dismay, despite the Kremlin’s certainty of what Munich presaged. It was as if the Bolsheviks were like a man who has dreaded for years a dire event and done his best to avert it, but finds his efforts vain, and says, almost with relief: “All right, now I know where I stand. If I have to fight, I’ll fight, and depend on myself alone.”
…The USSR was alone, but it would continue to strive for peace and refused to let itself be used as a cat’s-paw by anyone.
These last words were both cryptic and prophetic. Stalin meant them as a warning to France and Britain that he saw through their schemes of embroiling Nazi Germany with the USSR.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 242
That, in history’s perspective, was the real effect of Munich, that Stalin had a free hand.
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 245
In March 1938 Hitler seized Austria. The crisis over the Sudeten Germans in Czechoslovakia followed. The belligerence of the Nazi leaders and the threats of violence repeated by German propaganda unnerved the British and French prime minister’s. They held anxious consultations with Hitler, and both governments agreed to bring pressure to bear on Czechoslovakia to surrender the borderlands in the interests of peace.
Stalin was not readily unnerved. He responded at once with proposals that Britain, France, and Soviet Russia should present a united front against Germany and prepare with the Czechoslovak High Command a combined military plan. All three powers should invoke the League of Nations and prepare to enforce the provisions of the charter in the event of German aggression….
The Soviet government was not consulted or included in the Munich conference which, meeting on September 28-30, 1938, surrendered Czechoslovakia into the hands of Germany.
The Western powers failed completely to respond to the Soviet proposals for a grand alliance under the aegis of the League. Churchill observed: “The Soviet offer was in effect ignored. They were not brought into the scale against Hitler and were treated with an indifference –not to say disdain–which left a mark on Stalin’s mind. Events took their course as if Soviet Russia did not exist. For this we afterwards paid dearly.”
Grey, Ian. Stalin, Man of History. London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1979, p. 302
…Then the Munich agreement was signed and Stalin realized that the fear of the ‘Communist contagion’ was greater than the voice of reason. And he was right.
Volkogonov, Dmitri. Stalin: Triumph and Tragedy. New York: Grove Weidenfeld, 1991, p. 348
Winston Churchill summed up the result of the attitude of Britain and France towards the Soviets during the Munich crisis pithily and succinctly: “The Soviet offer was in effect ignored,” he wrote. “They were not brought into the scale against Hitler, and were treated with an indifference – not to say disdain – which left a mark in Stalin’s mind. Events took their course as if Soviet Russia did not exist. For this we afterwards paid dearly.”
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 31
[In May 1940] Stalin laughed and said:
“The French government headed by Daladier and the Chamberlain Government in Britain have no intention of getting seriously involved in the war with Hitler. They still hope to be able to incite Hitler to a war against the Soviet Union. By refusing in 1939 to form with us an anti-Hitler bloc, they did not want to hamper Hitler in his aggression against the Soviet Union. Nothing will come of it. They will have to pay through the nose for their short-sighted policy.”
Zhukov, Georgii. Memoirs of Marshal Zhukov. London: Cape, 1971, p. 171
Then came intervention, the continuing threat of attack by all nations, halted by the Depression, only to be re-opened by Hitlerism. It was Stalin who steered the Soviet Union between Scylla and Charybdis; Western Europe and the US were willing to betray her to fascism, and then had to beg her aid in the Second World War. A lesser man than Stalin would have demanded vengeance for Munich, but he had the wisdom to ask only justice for his fatherland. This Roosevelt granted but Churchill held back. The British Empire proposed first to save itself in Africa and southern Europe, while Hitler smashed the Soviets.
Statement by W.E.B DuBois regarding COMRADE STALIN on March 16, 1953
STALIN’S POLICY TOWARD THE NAZIS PROVED CORRECT BECAUSE THEY STRUCK WESTWARD
Hitler’s book, “Mein Kampf,” and his subsequent speeches had made it clear enough that the Ukraine and the Caucasus were his ultimate objective, and the Russians had long been expecting his onslaught. On that account they had braved ill-repute in Western Europe and in the United States to partition Poland, to garrison the Baltic States, and drive the Finnish frontier further back from Leningrad. They had done what they could to prepare for the wrath to come; but now they went further still to avert, if possible, the danger. They signed a new agreement with Germany, increasing their deliveries of oil and grain, and waited, breathless.
The four weeks from March 12, 1940, when Russia signed peace with Finland, to April 9th, when Hitler struck at Denmark and Germany, must have caused in the Kremlin a state of tension only equaled by the dreadful days of 1932, when the Ukraine and North Caucasus were stripped of gasoline, food, and seed-grain to strengthen the Red Army against a Japanese drive towards Lake Baikal. Now again, it seemed to the Russians that the issue hung in the balance, as a decade earlier they had waited to see if Japan would move north or south. Hostile critics of the USSR have declared that this period, the early spring of 1940, marked the depths of Soviet ignominy. The Russians, these critics averred, made a disgraceful pact with Germany; they raped East Poland and the Baltic States and Southern Finland. They instructed the foreign Communist parties all over the world to protest against the Franco-British “imperialist” war; they increased their supplies of raw material to Germany, and grovelled at Hitler’s feet.
…On April 9th Hitler struck at Denmark and Norway, and Stalin knew that the obloquy he had incurred abroad mattered nothing in comparison with what he had gained by Germany’s move to the west instead of the east. What a relief that was, what a crown of success to his policy! What a final negative to Chamberlain’s hopes of winning immunity for Britain and France and embroiling Germany and Russia!
Duranty, Walter. Story of Soviet Russia. Philadelphia, N. Y.: JB Lippincott Co. 1944, p. 255
STALIN BORROWED MONEY FROM THE FASCISTS
In the spring of 1935, while Anthony Eden, Pierre Laval, and Edward Benes were visiting Moscow, Stalin scored what he considered his greatest triumph. The Reichsbank granted a long-term loan of 200 million gold marks to the Soviet government.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 28
SPANISH GOVT WOULD NOT RECOGNIZE THE SOVIET GOVT
The Spanish Republic, after five years of existence, still refused to recognize the Soviet government and had no diplomatic relations with Moscow.
Krivitsky, Walter G. I was Stalin’s Agent, London: H. Hamilton, 1939, p. 90
STALIN CONTENDED THE CP MUST WORK FIRST TO AID THE WORLD PROLETARIAT
The destruction of the USSR would indeed have been followed by devastating attacks on the workers, the unions and political parties, in the capitalist world. His [Stalin] position is in essence, then, that a Communist Party, whether in a socialist or capitalist country, must work first to advance the interests of the world proletariat and that a central concern in these interests is the preservation of its developing socialist section.
Cameron, Kenneth Neill. Stalin, Man of Contradiction. Toronto: NC Press, c1987, p. 92
Some Latin poet has said that a thing well begun is half done. As against this, one may assert, with no less justice, that a thing which is only half done is not done at all. A succession of great proletarian adventures through the ages has shown us that whenever and in so far as the proletariat does not take everything into its own hands, it takes nothing.
Barbusse, Henri. Stalin. New York: The Macmillan company, 1935, p. 36
… the failure to understand the elementary principle of internationalism which lays it down that the victory of socialism in a single country is not an end in itself, but is a means for developing and supporting the revolution in all countries.
This [failure to understand] is the path of nationalism and degeneration, the path to the complete liquidation of the international policy of the proletariat. For those who are attacked by this sickness look upon our country, not as part of the whole known as “the international revolutionary movement,” but as the beginning and the end of this movement; they think that the interests of all other countries should be sacrificed to the interests of our country.
Support the liberation movement in China? Why? Won’t that…be risky? Won’t it embroil us with other countries? Would not be better for us to create “spheres of influence” in China, acting in concert with other “advanced” powers, and snatch a bit of China for our own benefit? A useful step, and no risks to run…. Support the liberation movement in Germany? Is it worth the risk? Would it not be better to come to terms with the Entente concerning the Treaty of Versailles, and get something for ourselves by way of compensation? Keep up friendly relations with Persia, Turkey, Afghanistan? Is the game worth the candle? Would it to not be better to re-establish “spheres of influence” with one or the other of the Great Powers? And so on so forth.
Here we have a new type of nationalist “frame of mind,” one which tries to liquidate the foreign policy of the October Revolution, and which cultivates the elements of degeneration….
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 280
But overthrowing the power of the bourgeoisie and establishing the power of the proletariat in a single country does not yet guarantee the complete victory of socialism. After consolidating its power and leading the peasantry after it, the proletariat of the victorious country can and must build up socialist society. But does that mean that in this way the proletariat will secure a complete and final victory for socialism, i.e., does it mean that with the forces of a single country it can finally consolidate socialism and fully guarantee that country against intervention, which means against restoration? Certainly not. That requires victory for the revolution in at least several countries. It is therefore the essential task of the victorious revolution in one country to develop and support the revolution in others. So the revolution in a victorious country ought not to consider itself a self-contained unit, but as an auxiliary and a means of hastening the victory of the proletariat in other countries.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 282
[Molotov stated]: As for the world revolution–we never did forget our obligation to the world proletariat. But unlike the Trotskyists who kept shouting about world revolution–we made one. Made one, and created a worldwide socialist camp. We didn’t keep shouting about industrialization like the Trotskyists, but we did it. In just the same way, they talk about collectivization, but it was Stalin who brought the peasants into the kolkhoz.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 253
Stalin and his associates had a pragmatic interest in ending their international isolation; they looked for opportunities for revolutionary self-assertion….
There was in fact much congruence between policy at home and policy abroad: at the beginning of the 1930s it was extremely radical in both cases. Communist parties across Europe were encouraged to go on the political attack against their governments. Ultra-leftist campaigns were approved. The Comintern, which had tended towards caution in Germany after the failure of revolution to occur there and had eliminated leftist leaders who sympathized with Trotsky, started to campaign against those whom it accused of “rightism’.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 382-383
MOST OF THE POLISH PEOPLE SUPPORTED THE SOCIALIZATION OF POLAND
Thus, despite vacillation on the part of certain elements in the population, the majority–and especially the working class–in the end overwhelmingly decided to engage in the socialist reconstruction of the Polish state….
I didn’t hear a single report or even a single rumor about armed resistance among the Polish population. If trouble had broken out, I certainly would have known about it. Comrades Beirut and Gomulka would have informed Stalin about it in my presence. Even if they hadn’t informed him–even if they’d tried to keep secret and outbreak of some kind–we still would have found out.
Talbott, Strobe, Trans. and Ed. Khrushchev Remembers. Boston: Little Brown, c1970, p. 197-198
On September 17 1939, following the escape of the Polish government into Romania, the Red Army marched into the territory Poland stole in 1920. The Red Army was welcomed as liberators by the local population, who were only too happy to see the rule of the Polish gentry broken. Even the Polish soldiers themselves welcomed the Red Army, which met virtually no resistance. The territory that was stolen from Ukraine and Byelorussia was restored to them and became part of the USSR. The territory of Lithuania was restored to it, including its capital, Vilnius.
Mukhin, Y.I., Katyn Detective,1995
STALIN SAYS COMINTERN LEADERS ARE NOT DIRECTING THE WORLD’S COMMUNIST PARTIES
The assertion that the American Communists work under “orders from Moscow” is absolutely untrue. There are no Communists in the world who would agree to work “under orders” from outside against their own convictions and will and contrary to the requirements of the situation. Even if there were such Communists they would not be worth a cent. Communists are bold and courageous, they are fighting against a host of enemies. The value of a Communist, among other things, lies in that he is able to defend his convictions. Therefore, it is strange to speak of American Communists as not having their own convictions and being capable only of working according to “orders” from outside. The only part of the labor leaders’ assertion that has any truth in it at all is that the American Communists are affiliated to an international Communist organization and from time to time consult with the central body of this organization on one question or another. But what is there bad in this? Are the American labor leaders opposed to an international workers’ center? It is true they are not affiliated to Amsterdam; not because they are opposed to an international workers’ center as such, however, but because they regard Amsterdam as being too radical. Why may the capitalists organize internationally and the working class, or part of it, not have its international organization?
Is it not clear that Green and his friends in the American Federation of Labor slander the American Communists when they slavishly repeat the capitalist legends about “orders from Moscow”? Some people believe that the members of the Communist International in Moscow do nothing else but sit and write instructions to all countries. As there are more than 60 countries affiliated to the Comintern, one can imagine the position of the members of the Comintern who never sleep or eat, in fact do nothing but sit day and night and write instructions to all countries.
Stalin, Joseph. Stalin’s Kampf. New York: Howell, Soskin & Company, c1940, p. 326
At the turn of the decade [from the 20’s to the 30’s]Stalin’s mastery of the Comintern was still superficial. Almost anyone who spent those years in the Communist party can relate from experience the bewilderment and the reluctance with which cadres and rankers alike began to conform to the new orthodoxy consecrated in Moscow.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 28
WHY THE NAZIS AGREED TO TRADE WITH THE SU
At that time I had already asked myself this question: Why had the Germans agreed to supply us their most modern military systems when the Wehrmacht was already planning to attack the Soviet Union? There must have been a number of reasons for this. First of all, in line with his broad disinformation campaign, Hitler wanted to convince Stalin that he had totally rejected the goal of “eliminating Bolshevism,” which he had proclaimed in Mein Kampf, and that he had shifted Germany’s policy toward co-operation with the Soviet Union. Secondly, underestimating Soviet scientific and technological potential, Berlin’s strategic planners did not believe that the Soviet Union was capable of mass-producing sophisticated weapons systems even when supplied with blueprints, and that the many items sent to the USSR would in the end make little or no difference. In any case–so they must have reasoned–even if the USSR did manage to get some types of modern armaments into production, the Wehrmacht would have time enough to defeat the Soviet Union before it began turning out those weapons on a massive scale. Thirdly, due to the naval blockade imposed by Great Britain, Germany was desperately short of strategic role materials, and the Soviet negotiators, particularly the people’s commissar for foreign trade, Mikoyan, demanded the latest technology, including military hardware, in exchange for Soviet supplies. At that juncture Hitler could not afford any complications in his relations with the Soviet Union, and with the nonaggression pact and the Treaty on Friendship and the Border, he was not only able to avoid a possible war on two fronts but also to circumvent the British blockade.
Documents of the period indicate that the German High Command objected to the delivery of military supplies to the Soviet Union. Grossadmiral Rader was the most outspoken critic of Hitler’s decision to supply the USSR. But the Fuhrer ignored the protests of his commanders, considering the Soviet shipments too important to be interrupted. He thought he was justified in his position, particularly since the Soviet side scrupulously complied with its commitments.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 76
SU USED NAZIS TECHNOLOGY PLANS SOLD TO THEM TO IMPROVE THEIR EQUIPMENT
Nevertheless, Soviet experts were able to study the very weapons we were to confront in June 1941. They used that knowledge to design new types of weapons systems, and this helped them to develop tanks, artillery pieces, and aircraft that by the end of 1942 were superior to what the Germans were using.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 77
HITLER DECEIVED BY LETTING SOVIET AGENTS SEE SECRET NAZI FACILITIES
In early April 1940, Tevosyan, whom I was accompanying, visited a German submarine base in Kiel . I was surprised that the Germans seemed to have no secrets from the Soviet people’s commissar. He could see whatever he wanted to see. This game of openness was part of Hitler’s disinformation campaign, part of his efforts to convince Stalin that Germany had no intention of going to war with the Soviet Union in any foreseeable future. There is no question that Tevosyan’s report on his tour of the German military facilities, filed through the USSR Embassy in Berlin, had an influence on Stalin’s assessment of Hitler’s plans.
Berezhkov, Valentin. At Stalin’s Side. Secaucus, New Jersey: Carol Pub. Group, c1994, p. 101
POLES UNDERGOING DEKULAKIZATION WERE TREATED WELL BY RUSSIANS
We should take note of the good treatment, on the whole, that the Poles who arrived got from local residents. Having themselves gone through dekulakization and exile, the majority of Russians helped the newcomers adjust to their new environment. Mixed marriages between exiled Poles and local residents were convincing evidence of the lack of ethnic animosity.
Siegelbaum and Sokolov. Stalinism As a Way of Life. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, c2000, p. 265
SU AND GERMANY WORKED TOGETHER ON MILITARY MATTERS IN THE 1920’S
The import of German industrial goods assisted Russia in her recovery in the ’20s. The Politburo authorized Trotsky and Tukhachevsky to enlist German military skill, the skill of unemployed officers and technicians, in the training of the Red Army. As a quid pro quo the Russians permitted German military technicians to continue on Russian soil experiments which they could not carry out in Germany under the Versailles Treaty. In these arrangements Stalin made no change. They continued by force of inertia for some time after Hitler had seized power.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 409
Broadly speaking, Russia’s task was to consist in promoting revolutionary anti-militarism abroad.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 411
…Tukhachevsky and other Soviet military leaders had played a leading role in implementing the agreements reached by the Soviet and German governments after they signed a Soviet-German peace treaty in the Italian town of Rapallo in 1922. An important aspect of these agreements was the establishment of co-operation between the high command of the Red Army and the leadership of the Reichswehr, the German armed forces, which were limited according to the Versailles Treaty to having no more than 100,000 troops. The German pilots, as well as artillery and tank specialists, were then able to enroll in military schools created in the Soviet Union to study the mastery of modern armaments which Germany was forbidden to own by the Versailles Treaty. Thus, Germany was given the chance to prepare new officer cadres, also banned by the Versailles Treaty, which the Soviet government refused to recognize from the moment it was signed. In turn, the Soviet officers and generals studied problems of strategy and tactics in the Academy of the German General Staff. Later on, the cooperation was also extended into the area of armaments. In exchange for permission to build German military plants on the territory of the USSR, the Reichswehr presented the Soviet side with military patents, and the Soviet Union ordered strategic materials and complex equipment from German industry.
The Soviet-German military ties were more beneficial to the Soviet Union than to Germany.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 416
In the period of Rapallo when Russia and Germany, both outlawed by the rest of Europe, were drawing closer together, it was natural that the General Staffs of the two countries should be instructed to confer together. On the advent of Hitler, with his menacing program, the Russian generals were told to stop and did not do so.
Pares, Bernard. Russia. Washington, New York: Infantry Journal, Penguin books, 1944, p. 203
NO EVIDENCE STALIN ENCOURAGED GERMAN COMMUNISTS TO SURRENDER TO NAZIS
[Footnote]: Some of Stalin’s Communist opponents (Wollenberg, Krivitsky, and others) claimed that Stalin had deliberately led the German Communists to surrender to nazism in order to save the policy of Rapallo. This version has, in our view, not been supported by convincing evidence.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 414
SU SHOWS IT IS READY TO STAND BEHIND ITS TREATY COMMITMENTS
In the middle of the crisis Stalin ordered Litvinov to tell the Czechs that Russia was ready to go to war in Czechoslovakia’s defense, provided the French, too, carried out their obligation. The Poles were warned that if they invaded Czechoslovakia they would be guilty of an act hostile to Russia. As France, committing a breach of faith, did not carry out her obligation, Russia had no need to keep to hers; but she committed no breach of faith. The Poles invaded Czechoslovakia and were told by Moscow that they had not, after all, been guilty of any act hostile to Russia…. If Stalin is to be judged by his conduct at the time, there’s nothing with which he can be reproached. To the last he demonstrated his readiness to fight, somewhat in the style of that brave soldier whom only an ill-timed cease-fire prevented from accomplishing a great feat of arms–only that this time the fire had not even been opened.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 427
STALIN PERMITS THE POLISH BOUNDARY TO BE SHIFTED EASTWARD TO INCLUDE POLES
He [Stalin] was surprised by the rapidity with which Polish armed resistance collapsed. When, on September 5, Ribbentrop began to press the Russians to march into their share of a Poland, Stalin was not yet ready to issue the marching orders. He was now given over to scruples and second thoughts. He would not openly lend a hand in defeating Poland, and he refused to budge before Poland’s collapse was complete beyond doubt. His second thoughts concerned the fixed demarcation line which left part of ethnical Poland on the Russian side. This he was in no mood now to annex, for that would be too flagrant a violation of the professed principles of Bolshevik policy. He now preferred to shift the demarcation line farther east, from the Vistula to the Bug, so that only lands with a predominantly Ukrainian and Byelorussian population should be left on the Russian side. The reunion of those lands with the Soviet Ukraine and Byelorussia could be politically justified. It would permit the Red Army to cross the frontier not as a conqueror of Poland but as the liberator of the Ukrainians and the Byelorussians, the ‘blood brethren’ as he now called them, having caught a germ of racialism from his Nazi partners.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 441
LEAGUE OF NATIONS EXPELS THE SU BUT NOT JAPAN OR GERMANY
…On Dec. 14, 1939, Russia was expelled from the League of Nations, which had always been so indulgent towards the Third Reich and Fascist Italy.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 443
He [Stalin at Yalta] reminded his guests of a rankling Russian grievance: in 1939, during the first Russo-Finnish war, the League of Nations pilloried Russia and expelled her from its midst –the same League that had never lifted a finger against Hitler and never done anything against any act of aggression…. No, Russia would not allow herself to be so treated in the future.
Deutscher, Isaac. Stalin; A Political Biography. New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1967, p. 525
Practically the whole of public opinion in the West was shocked by the Russian attack on Finland… [Yet] It was, indeed, extraordinary how they [the French and British governments] hastened to get the League of Nations to expel the Russian “aggressor,” even though neither Japan had been expelled for having invaded Manchuria, nor Mussolini’s Italy for her blatant aggression against Ethiopia.
Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.,1971, p. 45
SU WARNS AGGRESSIVE POLAND NOT TO TAKE NORTHERN PART OF CZECHOSLOVAKIA
The Poles, however, were a very different case. They were already lining up with Germany to demand territory from the Czechs, and were moving their own troops up to the border with the northern Czech region of Teshen, or Cieszyn as they knew it, which was rich in iron and coal and which had a minority Polish population. Litvinov was quick to warn the Poles that if they attempted to take Teshen by force the Soviet Union would consider her non-aggression pact with Poland as being annulled, and would then be free to take appropriate action in support of the Czechs. Haughty as ever, the Poles chose to ignore the Soviet threat, and continued with their claims.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 28
When Germany marched into the Sudatenland in 1938, Poland followed suit, annexing parts of Czechoslovakia for itself.
Mukhin, Y.I., Katyn Detective,1995
And Poland’s leaders had shortsightedly swallowed Hitler’s bait and grabbed a chunk of dismembered Czechoslovakia.
Radzinsky, Edvard. Stalin. New York: Doubleday, c1996, p. 440
HEAVY GERMAN/SOVIET TRADE WAS CUT DOWN WHEN FASCISTS TOOK OVER
Trade is a natural barometer of relations between countries, and the figures for trade between the Soviet Union and Germany are particularly revealing. Throughout most of the 20s, Germany had been the Soviet Union’s chief ally, and trade between them had flourished. In 1928, Germany was taking almost 29 percent of total Soviet exports, including a far higher proportion of their manganese ore, timber, oil, flax, and furs. In the other direction, Germany was supplying a similar percentage of total Soviet imports, mainly in machinery, which was most important to Germany since there were at that time few other markets open. By the time Hitler came to power, Germany was supplying an amazing 46.5% of the Soviet Union’s total imports. But that was the high water mark, and as the Nazis increased their grip on Germany, so the tide of trade fell dramatically. Within two years, Germany’s share of Soviet imports had dropped to a mere nine percent, and even though new agreements were made things did not improve as the ’30s progressed. In spite of Germany’s almost unlimited need for the raw materials which the Soviet Union could supply, German imports during 1938 barely totaled 50 million Reichmarks, where a few years before they had been counted in hundreds of millions. And they were still dropping: for the first quarter of 1939 there would be only 6 million Reichmarks worth.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 47
SU FOLLOWED A CONSISTENT ANTI-NAZI LINE FROM THE START
The second half of March, 1939, passed in a confused frenzy as the various nations involved struggled to come to terms with the situation. Only the Soviet Union appeared to follow a consistent line from the start, when Stalin seized the opportunity offered by Chamberlain’s volte-face and replied to the British approach with what his ambassador in London, Maisky, described as phenomenal speed.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 65
STALIN GENTLY REPLACED LITVINOV WITH MOLOTOV
Two days later [after May day 1939] Litvinov’s fears proved correct. After another fruitless meeting with Sir William Seeds in the morning, he kept an appointment with Stalin in the late afternoon. Stalin told him, quite gently, that he was being replaced as Foreign Commissar by Molotov, the Chairman of the Council People’s commissar’s – in other words the Prime Minister – of the USSR.
“It’s all over,” Litvinov recorded in his diary that night. “I have been fired like a maid caught stealing… without so much as a day’s notice.”
In fact, Litvinov was let down remarkably gently. Stalin and Molotov told him the Politburo was not blaming him for anything, but felt it was time for a change. He would be found a new job worthy of his talents and experience – as indeed he was, being retained as an adviser to the Foreign Commissariat, where he also helped train a new generation of diplomats before being sent to Washington, as ambassador to the USA, in 1941. Some time earlier, Stalin had told him, “Whatever may happen, Papasha, I will not let you down.”… Stalin was good as his word.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 74
[In late January 1939] I had been called to the Secretariat of the Central Committee to be told that henceforth all instructions to Merekalov, Astakhov, and Babarin would be sent directly from the Secretary-General’s office…. It would appear they have already decided to remove me.
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 292
[March 11, 1939] He [Molotov] told me my villa had already been allotted to… I am to be offered another…farther from Moscow…an honorable banishment…. I am preparing for the move… I don’t know what arrangements to make for the children.
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 297
I visited my new villa…. It’s a good way out… A wooden house with a cock on the roof….
Litvinov, Maksim Maksimovich. Notes for a Journal. New York: Morrow, 1955, p. 299
AFTER SIGNING THE RUSSO-NAZI PACT STALIN DID NOT CARE IF WAR BROKE OUT IN WEST
All this suited Stalin’s purposes admirably, for everything could be achieved without any action on his part. Now that the pact had been signed, he no longer had any interest in preventing a war – indeed, in Marxist-Leninist terms a war between capitalists and fascists was something devoutly to be desired.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 299
SOVIET SOLDIERS TREAT POLISH PEOPLE FAR BETTER THAN NAZIS
When the Polish government had called on all Poles, civilians as well as those in the armed forces, women as well as men, to fight the German invaders with every means they could devise – women had been urged to destroy tanks by pouring petrol over them and setting them alight, for instance – Hitler’s seized the excuse to order total war. Every village, whether it contained military units or not, was seen as a legitimate target for attack. Everything that moved on the roads, refugee columns as well as soldiers, was mercilessly machine-gunned by fighter aircraft, or dive-bombed by the wailing Stukas.
In comparison, Soviet troops behaved impeccably during the first few days of the Soviet occupation. Everything they obtained from the local population was paid for on the spot. There was no looting, little brutality, and very little killing, except in odd spots of resistance. Some of the resistance, it must be said, came from Ukrainian nationalists who had until then been happily killing Poles and Germans as part of their struggle for a totally independent Ukraine.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 338
Some Polish units, especially those of the border guards, put up a spirited resistance to the Soviet advance, but eventually most realized the position was hopeless, and submitted with a grim resignation. In at least one instance, a Polish unit which found itself trapped in a wood with Germans on one side and Soviets on the other, took a vote on which way to go.. The result was an overwhelming majority in favor of surrendering to the Red Army, in the belief that they would stand a better chance of surviving in Soviet hands.
Their belief was generally justified, though it did not take into account the incredible hardships involved in survival for any prisoners in the Soviet system.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 339
STALIN DID NOT SEIZE UKRAINE & BYELORUSSIA UNTIL POLAND’S GOVT FELL
On Oct. 27, 1939, Vilna was handed over to the Lithuanians. By then, Soviet troops were already moving into their new garrisons in all three Baltic states, but there was no attempt to take over any of the countries. That was not Stalin’s way.
In Stalin’s book, any move made by the Soviet Union had to have the appearance and the excuse of strict legality – even if he had to write the laws specifically for that purpose. That was why he had refused to move into western Byelorussia or the western Ukraine until the Polish government had ceased to exist. That was why in both those territories “democratic elections” had been held with such unseemly haste: he would have preferred a long time to prepare the ground, giving the Byelorussians and Ukrainians time to appeal to the Soviet Union for help and thus justifying the occupation, but the speed of Hitler’s Blitzkrieg in Poland had prevented this. In the Baltic states, however, he could afford to take a little time.
Read, Anthony and David Fisher. The Deadly Embrace. New York: Norton, 1988, p. 368
On several occasions messages from Berlin, forwarded by the Ambassador Schulenburg, invited the Soviet armies to enter the eastern portion of Poland, which was reserved to them by agreements duly signed. But on two occasions, at Stalin’s orders, Molotov evoked technical reasons for postponing the entry of the Red Army upon a neighboring territory.
Delbars, Yves. The Real Stalin. London, Allen & Unwin, 1951, p. 246
SU AND GERMANY HAD A LOT OF EXCHANGES IN THE 1920’S
[In the 1920s] excellent relations with Germany had developed in the realm of traditional diplomacy; at the same time, the German Communist Party gained support, while relations on the third level (economic) continued to develop and strengthen. Economic relations were not limited to trade; they also included the all-around technical aid that Germany accorded to the Soviet Union. More than 2,000 German engineers and technicians arrived in the Soviet Union after the signing of the Rapallo Treaty. They actively assisted in renewing Soviet industry. German-Soviet military co-operation was provided for in a secret clause of the Rapallo treaty.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 211
In mid-1929 the Soviet Union had technical agreements with 27 German firms and 15 American firms. By the end of 1929, 40 American firms were co-operating with the Soviet Union.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 212
BALTIC STATES ADVANCED UNDER THE SOVIETS AFTER WWII
During the first five years after the war, extensive industrialization of the Baltic countries was carried out, based on restructuring the old and creating a new power system. Three years after the end of the war industrial development had already surpassed prewar levels.
The volume of industrial production in Estonia, especially in the chemical and engineering industries, had grown by 1950 to over 3.4 times its prewar levels. Also by 1950 the number of blue-collar and white-collar workers in the Baltic countries had increased by 40 percent since 1940. In Latvia industrial production in 1950 was three times the prewar level; for the same period in Lithuania it was twice the prewar level.
Nekrich and Heller. Utopia in Power. New York: Summit Books, c1986, p. 470
The Baltic republics have the highest living standards in the entire country, and are among the most industrialized and most rapidly industrializing, while their health care and educational institutions are inferior to none within the Union….
Szymanski, Albert. Human Rights in the Soviet Union. London: Zed Books, 1984, p. 296
SPANISH CP AND SOVIET GOVT WANT A BOURGEOIS DEMOCRACY NOT THE DIC OF THE PROL.
The Spanish Communist Party, as paradoxical as this might seem at first glance, held a position similar to the liberals and did everything possible to prevent the further development of the revolution. It’s leaders stated that they must strive not for the social revolution and the seizure of power by the workers, but for the defense of bourgeois democracy. Given conditions in which “the country was in a transitional state that was capable either of developing in the direction of Socialism or of reverting to an ordinary capitalist republic,” they stubbornly defended a nonrevolutionary course. Such a line was dictated by Moscow, under whose orders the Communist press propagated the following slogans: “At present nothing matters except winning the war; without victory in the war all else is meaningless. Therefore this is not the moment to talk of pressing forward with the revolution…. At this stage we are not fighting for the dictatorship of the proletariat, we are fighting for parliamentary democracy. Whoever tries to turn the civil war into a socialist revolution is playing into the hands of the fascists and is in effect, if not in intention, a traitor.”
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 350
In Trotsky’s opinion, victory in the war with Franco could be guaranteed only by the growing over of the Spanish Revolution from the bourgeois-democratic into the socialist revolution.
Rogovin, Vadim. 1937: Year of Terror. Oak Park, Michigan: Labor Publications, 1998, p. 353
Yet, at the same time, the the Comintern declared that the Spanish revolution, in view of the country’s backwardness, must keep within “bourgeois democratic” limits, and that “proletarian dictatorship was not on the order of the day.” It is easy to recognize there the Stalinist canon developed as antithesis to Trotsky’s Permanent Revolution and applied in China in 1925-27. This Canon was to underlie Stalinist policy in Spain through all its phases. At a later stage, in 1936-38, it was invoked to justify the communist coalition with bourgeois republican parties in the Popular Front, the “moderate” policy of the Communist party and its repressive action against P.O.U.M., the Trotskyists, and the radical Anarcho-Syndicalists….
Trotsky asserted that the Spanish revolution would have to pass, as the Russian Revolution had done, from the bourgeois into the socialist phase, if it was not to be defeated.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 160
In December 1936 he [Stalin], along with Molotov and Voroshilov, warned the new Spanish Prime Minister, the left-wing Socialist Caballero, to avoid any radical social policies and thus win the middle-class to his side. He should spare no effort, the letter went on, “to prevent the enemies of Spain from presenting it as a Communist republic.”
Ulam, Adam. Stalin; The Man and his Era. New York: Viking Press, 1973, p. 426
Gopner translated. As she tells it, the highlights of Stalin’s discussion on 20 March 1937 on the nature of the revolution in Spain were as follows:
a) The people and the world must be told the truth–the Spanish people are in no condition now to bring about a proletarian revolution–the internal and especially the international situation do not favor it. (Things were different in Russia in 1917 –[geographic] expanses, wartime, squabbles among the capitalist countries, in the bourgeoisie, and so forth.) In Spain, the proclamation of the Soviets– to unite all capitalist states and defeat fascism.
b) On the global scale, Spain is now the vanguard. The vanguard is always inclined to run ahead of events–and herein lies a great danger. Victory in Spain will loosen fascism’s hold in Italy and Germany.
c) Communist and Socialist parties must join forces–they now share the same basic aims–(a democratic republic). Such a union will strengthen the Popular Front and have a great effect on the anarchists.
d) Caballero has demonstrated his resolute character and his will to fight against fascism. Caballero must be preserved as head of the government. It would be better to leave commanding to someone else.
e) The General staff is unreliable. There has always been betrayal on the eve of an offensive by Republican units. The Republican army wins its offensives, when the general staff has no knowledge of them! The battle on the Guadalajara front makes that perfectly clear!
f) Madrid must under no circumstances be surrendered. The fall of Madrid would be followed by recognition of Franco by England, would cause complete demoralization among the Republicans, and would lead to a final defeat.
Dimitrov, Georgi, The Diary of Georgi Dimitrov, 1933-1949. Ed. Ivo Banac. New Haven: Yale University Press, c2003, p. 60
BESEIGED CZECHS LIMITED FREEDOM IN THE SUDENLAND SO THE SU SHOULD LIMIT AS WELL
(Sinclair’s comments only)
I believe that the people of Czechoslovakia are sincere democrats, and that their government is honestly committed to the principal of government by popular consent; but as I write these words, the Czech armies are mobilized on the borders of Germany and Austria, expecting attack, and I am sure that democracy is greatly limited in the Sudeten districts, and that a secret police is active. I do not think it reasonable to expect more in Russia under the same conditions.
Sinclair and Lyons. Terror in Russia?: Two Views. New York : Rand School Press, 1938, p. 59
TROTSKY WRONGLY BLAMES STALIN & ZINOVIEV FOR THE FAILED 1923 GERMAN REVOLUTION
But the 1923 German revolution failed. From October it was clear that we were too late and had poorly calculated the timing and that the revolutionary wave had reached its apogee and commenced to recede, although the work of organization and propaganda foresaw at least two or three months more. Soon, the revolutionary wave commenced to recede so rapidly that the Politburo had to face the fact that there was virtually no chance for a coup d’etat and that it must be set forward to a more favorable time. Trotsky delivered a plethora of criticisms after the fact, pointed at Zinoviev and the Comintern for having waited so long and missing the boat. Zinoviev and Stalin, on the other hand, got out of it by accusing Trotsky of overestimating the acuteness of the German revolutionary situation, and, in the final analysis, it was they who were right.
Bazhanov, Boris. Bazhanov and the Damnation of Stalin. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, c1990, p. 49
RUSSO-GERMAN PACT IS JUSTIFIED BECAUSE OF THE MUNICH SELL-OUT
The Nazi-Soviet pact, concluded in August 1939, can, on this account, be regarded as the logical conclusion of the Munich crisis.
Overy, R. J. Russia’s War: Blood Upon the Snow. New York: TV Books, c1997, p. 62
This pact [the 1939 Russo-German pact] aroused the highest “moral indignation” in the West; it was a “stab in the back,” a Russian betrayal of “collective security” etc. etc.–all these indignant people conveniently forgetting that Munich was their stab in the back to Russia and just as blatant a betrayal of “collective security” as Munich had been. Moreover, at Munich France had cynically betrayed Czechoslovakia, a country with which she had a firm military alliance. By signing their pact with Nazi Germany, the Russians did not at that time “betray” or throw to the wolves any country.
Werth, Alexander. Russia; The Post-War Years. New York: Taplinger Pub. Co.,1971, p. 44
COMINTERN DEMANDS NO UNITING WITH THE SOCIAL-FASCISTS
In accordance with this “general line,” the Comintern also changed its attitude towards the Social Democratic parties. In a truly revolutionary situation, it was said, those parties could only side with counter-revolution; and so no ground was left for communists to seek cooperation or partial agreements with them. As the bourgeoisie was striving to save its rule with the help of fascism, as the era of parliamentary government and democratic liberties was coming to a close, and as parliamentary democracy itself was being transformed “from the inside” into fascism, the Social Democratic parties too were becoming “social-fascist”–” socialist in words and fascist in deeds.” Because they concealed their “true nature” under the paraphernalia of democracy and socialism, the Social Democrats were an even greater menace than plain fascism. It was therefore on “social fascism” as “the main enemy” that communists ought to concentrate their fire. Similarly, the left Social Democrats, often speaking a language almost indistinguishable from that of communism, were even more dangerous than the right wing “social-fascists” and should be combated even more vigorously. If, hitherto, communists were required to form united fronts with the Social Democrats from “above and below,” with leaders and rank-and-file alike, the Comintern now declared a rigorous ban on any such tactics. “Only from below” could the united front still be practiced– communists were permitted to co-operate only with those of the Social Democratic rank and file who were “ready to break with their own leaders.” To favor any contact “from above” was to aid and abet “social-fascism.”
These notions and prescriptions were to govern the policies of all Communist parties for the next five or six years, almost up to the time of the Popular Front, throughout the fateful years of the Great Slump, the rise of Nazism, the collapse of the monarchy in Spain, and other events in which the conduct of the Communist parties was of crucial importance.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 39-40
TROTSKY CONTENDED STALIN’S INVASION OF FINLAND WAS JUSTIFIED
All the issues under debate were brought to a head before the end of the year 1939, when Stalin ordered his armies to attack Finland. Trotsky in his commentaries castigated Stalin’s “stupid and incompetent” conduct of the Finnish war, which had outraged the world and exposed the Red Army to humiliating defeats. He nevertheless insisted that what Stalin was trying to do in Finland was to secure an exposed flank of the Soviet Union against a probable attack from Hitler. This was a legitimate endeavor; and any Soviet government, acting in the circumstances in which Stalin acted (circumstances which were, however, partly of Stalin’s making), might well be compelled to protect its frontiers at Finland’s expense. The strategic interests of the workers’ state must take precedence over Finland’s right to self-determination. As Stalin’s invasion of Finland was met in the Allied countries by a campaign for “switching the war,” and for armed intervention in favor of Finland, Trotsky called all the more emphatically for the “defense of the Soviet Union.” This brought an outcry from his erstwhile disciples: “Has Trotsky become Stalin’s apologist?! Does he want us to become Stalin’s stooges?!”
… True, even in the heat of the most furious polemics, he had always reiterated that, despite everything, he and his followers would defend unconditionally the USSR against all foreign enemies. But quite a few of his followers had treated these declarations as merely his facon de parler; and they were dismayed to find that he meant what he had said. They charged him with inconsistency, duplicity, even betrayal.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 473
In terms of the new Trotskyism which they had culled from The Revolution Betrayed, Burnham & Shachtman had used fairly strong arguments; and both now claimed to defend Trotskyism against Trotsky himself. “Then I am not a Trotskyist,” the master replied paraphrasing Marx…. After all he had suffered at Stalin’s hands, nothing distressed him more than to see the judgment of his own disciples clouded by Stalinophobia; and to his last breath he pleaded with them “against hysteria” and for “objective Marxist thinking.”
The American Trotskyists had split into a “majority” which, led by James Cannon, accepted Trotsky’s view, and a “minority” which followed Burnham & Shachtman.
Deutscher, Isaac. The Prophet Outcast. London, New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1963, p. 475
GERMAN COMMUNISTS WANT TO UNITE WITH SOCIAL-DEMS AGAINST NAZIS BUT ARE REJECTED
When Hindenburg’s first term as president expired, the Communists proposed to the Social Democrats to put up a nonparty anti-militarist such as the writer Heinrich Mann, warning that Hindenburg could not be relied on to keep Hitler out of power. However, the SPD, like the other parties of the Weimar coalition, preferred Hindenburg. When the Communists put up their own candidate, as they had done in 1924, they were again accused of helping reaction: in 1924 because they refused to vote for Hindenburg’s opponent, and in 1932 because they refused to vote for Hindenburg. Hindenburg won the election over Hitler–and made him chancellor a few months later.
Blumenfeld, Hans. Life Begins at 65. Montreal, Canada: Harvest House, c1987, p. 146
True to form, the Social Democrat leaders refused the Communist party’s proposal to form an 11th-hour coalition against Nazism. As in many other countries past and present, so in Germany [in the early 1930s], the Social Democrats would sooner ally themselves with the reactionary Right than make common cause with the Reds.
Parenti, Michael. Blackshirts and Reds, San Francisco: City Light Books, 1997, p. 5
SU WAS THE ONLY COUNTRY AGAINST NAZISM AND FASCISM
But my strongest reason for identifying with communism and the Soviet Union was the fact that it was the only force defending mankind against fascism and war. The “West” praised Mussolini, favored Franco, and was at best ambivalent toward Hitler. In the Soviet Union there was never any doubt who the enemy was. There was instruction in sharpshooting available to everyone; I also took it. The target was a steel helmet with a swastika.
Blumenfeld, Hans. Life Begins at 65. Montreal, Canada: Harvest House, c1987, p. 174
SU DID NOT MOVE INTO POLAND IN 1939 UNTIL AGREEMENT WITH GERMANY
To German dismay, Stalin at first refused to sanction the movement of the Red Army into the territory agreed as falling within the Soviet sphere of interest. The reason was that the USSR and Japan remained at war in the Far East, and the military risk of deploying forces in eastern Poland was too great until the two countries agreed to make peace on 15 September. The Red Army moved into Polish territory two days later.
Service, Robert. Stalin. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard Univ. Press, 2005, p. 402
CAPITALIST REPRESSION AND EXPLOITATION
In pursuit of counterrevolution and in the name of freedom, US forces or US-supported surrogate forces slaughtered 2 million North Koreans in a three-year war; 3 million Vietnamese; over 500,000 in aerial wars over Laos and Cambodia; over 1,500,000 million in Angola; over one million in Mozambique; over 500,000 in Afghanistan; 500,000 to one million in Indonesia; 200,000 in East Timor; 100,000 in Nicaragua (combining the Somoza and Reagan eras); over 100,000 in Guatemala (plus an additional 40,000 disappeared); over 700,000 in Iraq; over 60,000 in El Salvador; 30,000 in the “dirty war” of Argentina (though the government admits to only 9000); 35,000 in Taiwan, when the Kuomintang military arrived from China; 20,000 in Chile; and many thousands in Haiti, Panama, Grenada, Brazil, South Africa, Western Sahara, Zaire, Turkey, and dozens of other countries, in what amounts to a free-market world holocaust.
Parenti, Michael. Blackshirts and Reds, San Francisco: City Light Books, 1997, p. 25
FINLAND WAS AIDED BY ENGLAND AND FRANCE
The anti-Soviet policies dominated in these countries [ England and France]. In France a Ukrainian legion was created with defectors from the Soviet Union and national combat units of Caucasians in the army of the French general Weygand. When Finland started the war against the Soviet Union in December 1939 France and Great Britain took position on Finland’s side. Great Britain sent 144 war planes, 114 heavy guns and hundreds of thousands of grenades and air bombs. France sent 179 war planes, 472 guns, 5,100 machine guns and approximately one million grenades of different kinds. Simultaneously these countries made up plans to send in an army of 150,000 men to fight on the Finnish side against the Soviet Union.
Sousa, Mario. The Class Struggle During the Thirties in the Soviet Union, 2001.
…The standard myth popularized by U.S. and British apologists attributes the Soviet victory in WW2 to the availability of limitless human hordes used as cannon fodder, and vast stocks of U.S. donated arms. This exhausted the enemy. Russian winters also get a big play in these fairy tales–as if the weather had been warmer for the communists than for Nazis.
T. A. “Stalin’s Successes, Humanity’s Gains,” Communist, Progressive Labor, Brooklyn, New York, p. 58-59
Contrary to the rehashed lies of vulgar western anti-communists wo pretend that the Soviet people mysteriously rose up all of a sudden in 1941 despite their leaders, history shows that these leaders had meticulously planned for war since the 1930’s. They tried to avoid war, but they also prepared to fight to win if war was imposed on them.
Production for war formed a key element of the plan. Defense appropriations rose from 395 million rubles in 1924 to 34 billion in 1938. The Red Army’s motor component (the number of mechanical horsepower per soldier) rose from 2.6 in 1929 to 13.8 by the end of 1938 Soviet tractor plants were constructed to be easily convertible into tank plants. Starting from scratch, by 1935-36, the USSR already boasted 74 aircraft factories, of which the most important group was situated well beyond the reach of enemy bombers. Therefore, Soviet tank and aircraft production had been guaranteed 6 years before the invasion.
T. A. “Stalin’s Successes, Humanity’s Gains,” Communist, Progressive Labor, Brooklyn, New York, p. 62.
The conclusion is inescapable. The Soviet government was not afraid to arm its people. It was not afraid to teach its people military science. It welcomed these developments and considered them necessary. It had full confidence in the majority of the population, and this attitude was reciprocated. Such a relationship between government and people is absolutely inconsistent with the absurd premise that Stalin ruled like a “despot” and that his power emanated from intimidation of the masses.
T. A. “Stalin’s Successes, Humanity’s Gains,” Communist, Progressive Labor, Brooklyn, New York, p. 63.
How many workers and peasants would have starved to death, how many would have fallen prey to disease and all the ravages of the old system had the Five Year Plans (for which collectivization was the key) not been implemented? How many millions would have fallen victim to Hitler’s genocide had the Soviet Union failed to organize both its industry and its agriculture for the coming war? The issue can be judged only from this perspective.
T. A. “Stalin’s Successes, Humanity’s Gains,” Communist, Progressive Labor, Brooklyn, New York, p. 66.
STALIN HAD GOOD REASON TO BELIEVE THE ALLIES WERE TRICKING HIM INTO ATTACKING
Warnings from Britain and America that the Germans would attack were worse than useless, given their desperate desire for war between Germany and Russia. Stalin assumed that their efforts to make trouble between him and Hitler took the form not only of information supplied through official channels, but also through covert disinformation. On one report from a Czech agent of Soviet intelligence, forecasting a German attack on Russia, Stalin noted, ‘This informant is an English provocateur. Find out who is making this provocation and punish him.’ It was reasonable to suspect that the British had planted disinformation on such agents, or even on Richard Sorge, a German who was a Soviet spy in Japan, and who warned of a German attack. And, despite various forecasts of invasion on particular dates in the spring of 1941, weeks passed without action and the time remaining for a summer campaign diminished. As events were to demonstrate, Hitler needed as much time as possible, if he were to take Moscow before winter set in. Stalin was justified in thinking that the delay through May and much of June meant that he was in the clear for another year. Even if Hitler had been contemplating a drive to the east, his decision to invade the Balkans and even Crete, with the resulting loss of time and also of German paratroops, should have persuaded him to call off the Russian campaign….
McNeal, Robert, Stalin: Man and Ruler. New York: New York University Press, 1988, p. 237
FINLAND SHOULD GIVE UP LAND BECAUSE IT IS TOO WEAK TO DEFEND ITSELF
Weeks before the Russo-Finnish War broke out, the Leningrad journal Krasny Flot (Red Fleet) spelled out the reasons why it was necessary to agree on mutual Russo-Finnish assistance in time of war. The journal, obviously reflecting official opinion at a very high level, cited the geographical position of Finland, the insecurity of her communications on the Baltic Sea, her economic weakness and “the absence of any menace to her frontiers from the east’–meaning from Russia. All this, it said, pointed to the necessity of Finland’s ‘rallying’ to the side of Russia. ‘Only by way of mutual assistance with the USSR can a country like Finland withstand hostile aviation, which could deal untold damage to her national economy.’
On 12 November 1939, commenting on Finnish naval capabilities in the event of a ‘third nation’ entering the picture, the journal said that the Finnish fleet was extremely weak and capable of undertaking only very limited defensive measures. Moreover, the Finnish armed coastal vessels were very lightly armed and slow, and in conditions where maneuvering was difficult, especially close to rocks, they would be easy targets for a strong enemy.
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 56
RUSSO-GERMAN PACT DID NOT MAKE THEM FRIENDS OR CREATE TRUST
Some writers persist in believing that Stalin trusted Hitler and the non-aggression pact, that ‘living corpse that poisoned the air’, as one Russian writer dubbed Stalin’s August 1939 treaty with Germany. A few experts quote novelist Solzhenitsyn as saying that, ‘Stalin trusted nobody but Hitler!’, but the evidence for this is tenuous. While the Hitler-Stalin Pact was in force, there was more acrimony than gestures of goodwill. Stalin, although a fellow dictator, kept aloof from Hitler; he exchanged but one or two perfunctory birthday greetings and messages with him. He declined at least one invitation to visit Berlin with the excuse that he disliked ‘unfamiliar settings’.
Axell, Albert. Stalin’s War: Through the Eyes of His Commanders. London, Arms and Armour Press. 1997, p. 71